Lexington's Urban County Council is considering a new proposal to help people who can't afford costly ambulance bills.
Councilwoman Peggy Henson said that she has spoken to city officials about the possibility of starting a fund that could help poor people pay their portion of ambulance bills. Council had previously discussed waiving ambulance fees for Medicare patients.
Henson said during Thursday night's council meeting that she would continue to consult with city officials about the costs associated with starting such a fund and would return to the council's General Government and Social Services Committee with a proposal.
"This has the potential to help many more people, including people with disabilities and veterans," Henson said in an interview Thursday.
The move comes after the city made a mistake reporting how much it would cost to waive bills for ambulance services for Medicare beneficiaries.
During a council meeting Tuesday, city officials originally thought it would cost the city $2.3 million to waive ambulance fees for Medicare patients. That's a little less than 1 percent of the city's total budget of about $313 million.
But that's not accurate, city officials said during Thursday's council meeting.
Finance Commissioner Bill O'Mara told council that city officials were confused about what the council was asking the city to calculate. The city could still bill Medicare and waive the Medicare co-pays for Medicare beneficiaries. That means the loss would be only about $700,000, O'Mara said.
Henson said she talked with Chief Administrative Officer Sally Hamilton and Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills, and they decided that setting up a fund might be a way to help more people — not just Medicare patients.
Henson originally proposed waiving ambulance fees for people over 65. However, the law does not allow waiving fees for certain age groups.
Henson pursued the issue after hearing from several seniors who said they did not call an ambulance because they could not pay the ambulance bill.