McAllen ending contract with MedCare EMS after 20 years of service

4 months 5 days 21 hours ago Thursday, January 26 2023 Jan 26, 2023 January 26, 2023 10:44 AM January 26, 2023 in News - Local

The city of McAllen and is cutting ties with their ambulance service provider of more than 20 years.

Med Care EMS said for more than 20 years they haven't charged the city for their services, but will now stop picking up patients in McAllen on February 23. 

Instead of charging the city, the company charged patients and insurance providers, which the CEO of the company, Veronica Ontiveros, said was sustainable in the beginning — but not anymore.

"For every ten calls that Med Care services we only get paid on three, so that's charity work of the other seven that the provider has to take on," Ontiveros said.

For about a year, McAllen and Med Care EMS tried to work on a new contract where the city would pay for ambulance services.

McAllen was given four options, ranging in cost from $600,000 to $4.8 million a year. The cheaper option meant fewer ambulances and slower response times of up to 15 minutes.

All the options seemed unreasonable to McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez, who said Med Care EMS was falling short of the city's expectations.

"They asked us to terminate the contract if we didn't agree to their price, and we've accepted that termination, and we will have a new company here soon," Rodriguez said. "They have to have a certain number of units, personnel, they have to be at an emergency call within a certain number of minutes, and we were seeing some lackness in that,"

Ontiveros said a majority of the people they care for are uninsured, and the process for them to get paid is a long one. She said the pandemic added to the pressure, making it harder to maintain the same level of care.

"The issues have become, you know, increase in fuel, increase in liability, increase in insurance and just the overall cost has become such a burden," Ontiveros said.

Rodriguez said the city is in discussions with several companies to 

The city has decided to move forward without them.

"We've talked to several companies, and we believe in the next day or two we will execute a contract with one of them. They're ready to go," Rodriguez said.

The city of McAllen is not releasing the details of the new agreement, including how much it will cost or the company's name, until after the contract is signed.

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