Oklahoma City code change would give city council a say in ambulance program

The Oklahoma City Council is considering modifying a city ordinance to include the rules for the Emergency Medical Services Authority's TotalCare program in city code. The change would effectively mean any changes to the program must be approved by the council.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: July 3, 2012

The Oklahoma City Council will make sure it has a say on any future changes to the Emergency Medical Services Authority's TotalCare program if a proposed modification to city code passes.

TotalCare provides emergency ambulance service to participating residents.

The proposed change would put TotalCare's rules into the section of city code that deals with the city's relationship with EMSA, which manages the ambulance service in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and many of their suburbs.

In effect, any change to TotalCare would then have to be approved by the city council because of the rules' presence in city ordinances.

A public hearing for the proposed change is set for Tuesday's city council meeting. A potential vote is set for July 17.

The potential change comes as a result of confusion expressed in recent months by some city residents about TotalCare and what it provides, said city Budget Director Doug Dowler. EMSA and TotalCare were a focus of records reviews by The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World this year and in late 2011 examining EMSA's finances, and feedback from the resulting stories revealed the confusion.

TotalCare provides emergency ambulance service to every resident of a participating address without any out-of-pocket expenses. It is available for a fee of about $3.65 per month, depending on the city, payable directly to EMSA or as an additional charge on utility bills.

Making it clear

The only change to TotalCare in nearly two decades of existence has been an extension of time for some residents to provide insurance information from 30 days to 60 days.

“There really haven't been any major changes to it (TotalCare) so far,” Dowler said. “We're just trying to make it very transparent that these are the rules of the program. You don't have to look somewhere else; they're in the city ordinance.”

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