MEXICO — Med-Care Ambulance will keep its budget at $24 per capita, Selectman Reggie Arsenault told the Board of Selectmen at its Dec. 15 meeting.

Arsenault, who represents Mexico on the Med-Care Board, said that after two budget meetings, the Med-Care budget was passed on Dec. 9.

“The revenue stream on the paying part is showing better signs of coming around,” Arsenault said. “There’s not so much of a lag time. We’ve paid off a couple of major loans, so that’s made our cash flow a lot better. 

“Of course, we don’t know what’s going to happen after the presidential race with Obamacare, so we’re just being kind of cautious, but we cut the budget,” he said. “There’s no increases to the towns and things are staying good.” 

On Friday, Med-Care Board President Steve Brown said, “We’re going to hold the line on the subsidy here and we hope things pick up. We feel we’re in a stable enough situation right now that we certainly didn’t have to increase it again.”

Last year, because of several unforeseen changes at the state and federal levels and a dwindling overall population of its member towns, the Med-Care Board had to increase its subsidy rate from $18 per capita to $24 per capita. Subsidies from the towns represent about 16 to 18 percent of the budget.

“And there’s still uncertainties there, what the long-term effect (of Obamacare) will be on us,” he said. “For the time being, we feel we’ll be OK the way the revenue has been coming in. We’re getting into the time of year now when we’ve run into cash flow problems in the past. I think we’re going to be OK this year.” 

Brown said for people with the high-deductible insurance plans, “we often are the first provider, so we’re the ones eating the deductible.”

A percentage of people in the area do not have adequate income or health care coverage, he said. We get a call, we have to go — no matter what. You can’t pick and choose. We have to look out for everybody. And people have no insurance, they’re not on Medicare or not eligible for MaineCare, and can’t afford private insurance — or if they can afford it, they’re on a high deductible. That’s where we eat the cost.”

Brown said Med-Care is also having a better year in the number of calls they receive.

“I think we’re ending the year in good shape. But I get a little nervous this time of year because sometimes the revenue can fall off,” Brown said, adding that he’s “cautiously optimistic.”

Regarding the six-ambulance fleet, Brown said, “The fleet is aging. We’re starting the process to remount one of our older ambulances. We buy good, used ambulances with high-quality boxes. When the chassis wears out, we remount them.”

Med-Care was formed by the towns of Andover, Byron, Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Hanover, Mexico, Newry, Peru, Roxbury and Rumford. The nonprofit is run by a board composed of representatives from each town. Chief of Operations Dean Milligan runs the ambulance service.

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