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COS Mayor calls AMR ‘desperate’ after it claims financials for city-run ambulance are inflated

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade called the city’s current ambulance provider, American Medical Response (AMR), desperate after AMR disputed the city’s financial numbers for its own city-run ambulance service.

On May 13, the Colorado Springs Fire Department presented a plan to the city council to take over ambulance services when its contract with AMR ends in April 2025. This plan comes after years of AMR arriving late to emergency calls. 

KRDO13 Investigates has extensively reported on this issue, finding in the last three years, AMR has been late to 33,000 calls and paid the City $5.5 million in fines. The city’s proposal claimed the fire department would have better response times and save residents money. 

“Every second and every minute matters to our families in our community,” Mobolade said during Tuesday’s press conference about the ambulance service.

The city-run EMS would be an enterprise, which means it won’t be affiliated with the city’s budget and won’t cost taxpayers any money. This means the city needs to find ways to fund the more than $11 million startup cost. Most of it will be through lease-purchase options for equipment, vehicles, and facilities. The remaining $3.8 million will be through loans from local foundations and grants. Mobolade said those loans have a low-interest rate and will be paid off within five years using the revenue from the ambulance service.

“I'm not the only one that sees this opportunity,” he said. “These foundations see this opportunity, so they've stepped up to say, ‘Let us help you.’”

The Colorado Springs Fire Department said the service will be profitable in the first year and make over $107 million in revenue in nine years, with the help of federal grants. However, AMR claims those numbers are inflated.

"CSFD is projecting Net Revenue per Transport of $755," AMR said in a statement. "The true number is $530, which means that their projected revenue is 42.45% higher than reality. The reason for their mis-projection is that they are dramatically overestimating the amount of revenue they will receive from commercial insurance payers."

According to the proposal, transportation costs with CSFD would range from $1,975 to $2,275 depending on the treatment. This is 26-30% lower than what AMR costs. The EMS enterprise plan is expected to make $25.4 million in revenue in the first year with a net revenue of $755 per transport.

AMR officials disputed some of the data, saying the city's revenue figures were based on its ability to collect roughly 80% of the amount billed to patients when in reality AMR's collection figure is closer to 50%.

“The half a million people that I serve have access to my numbers,” Mobolade said when asked about AMR disputing the city’s projections. “We’re waiting for access to AMR's numbers. It's easy to go up in the dias and make a claim of that nature without bringing your numbers to the table.”

KRDO13 Investigates obtained information that allegedly showed AMR’s revenue per transport is about $530, which AMR has said is industry standard. This is about $200 less than what CSFD said it would make per transport.

“Over the next month, AMR is going to make a number of statements,” Mobolade said. “Frankly, I feel like it's desperation. I expect them to fight to the end because they know how attractive this opportunity is for them.”

KRDO13 Investigates reached out to AMR for comment but is still waiting for a response. The city council will hold its first vote on the ambulance enterprise on June 11. Its final vote will be on June 25.

“We're in it for different reasons,” Mobolade said. “I am in it to maximize service for our residents. They're in it to maximize profit for their shareholders.”

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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