Part of the Neoliberal Agenda is to raid core Government services for cash they can plop in Billionaires’ pockets.
You certainly see this in the Charter School movement which seeks to ravage the Education budgets of States and Municipalities by providing sub-standard results, using public resources at below market rates, and stealing money from Unionized workers.
Unfortunately it’s becoming more and more prevalent in Fire and Emergency Medical Services as well.
When You Dial 911 and Wall Street Answers
By DANIELLE IVORY, BEN PROTESS and KITTY BENNETT, The New York Times
JUNE 25, 2016
The business of driving ambulances and operating fire brigades represents just one facet of a profound shift on Wall Street and Main Street alike, a New York Times investigation has found. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms, the “corporate raiders” of an earlier era, have increasingly taken over a wide array of civic and financial services that are central to American life.
Private equity put a unique stamp on these businesses. Unlike other for-profit companies, which often have years of experience making a product or offering a service, private equity is primarily skilled in making money. And in many of these businesses, The Times found, private equity firms applied a sophisticated moneymaking playbook: a mix of cost cuts, price increases, lobbying and litigation.
In emergency care and firefighting, this approach creates a fundamental tension: the push to turn a profit while caring for people in their most vulnerable moments.
While private equity firms have always invested in a diverse array of companies, including hospitals and nursing homes, their movement into emergency services raises broader questions about the administering of public services. Cities and towns are required to offer citizens a free education, and they generally provide a police force, but almost everything else is fair game for privatization.
A TransCare ambulance pulled into a hospital parking lot in Westchester County. Employees in windbreakers, “EMS” emblazoned on the backs, hopped out and headed for the emergency room door.
They were there not to bring in a patient or sign paperwork, but to go “E.R. shopping”: swiping supplies to replenish critical items TransCare could not afford to replace in its ambulances.
After an ambulance finishes a run, hospital staff members often restock medications as a courtesy. But TransCare emergency workers described pressure from supervisors to go further and raid supply carts, sometimes without the hospital’s blessing. On occasion, one TransCare worker would act as lookout while “the other one would just be grabbing stuff,” said Emanuel Almodovar, a former employee.
Ms. Tilton was very much in charge of TransCare as it crumbled. She was the sole owner of the Patriarch Partners fund that had a controlling stake in TransCare. And although she never held an executive or management role, she was TransCare’s sole board member — a situation almost unheard-of in corporate America. Only 3 percent of private companies have two or fewer board members, according to survey data from the National Association of Corporate Directors, which called a one-person board “likely a recipe for governance failure.”
Former TransCare employees described pressure to cut costs and increase billing as the company weakened in recent years. Patients were transported unnecessarily in ambulances, they said.
And ambulances regularly broke down. On the day TransCare filed for bankruptcy, more than 30 percent of the company’s vehicles were out of service, some for hundreds of days, according to internal documents.
The city of Mount Vernon, another former customer in New York, hired a new private company at a cost to taxpayers, and is developing its own ambulance operation within its fire department. In New York City, where TransCare had operated 27 ambulances, the fire department paid its own ambulance workers overtime to fill the void.
Rural/Metro’s fire departments sell homeowners an annual subscription for fire protection, often ranging from $100 to $500, depending on the property. If a nonsubscriber suffers a fire, Rural/Metro will still answer the call, unlike some other private departments. But then it sends a bill well above the subscription price.
Even before private equity took over, the company sued to collect fire bills. Under private equity, this practice flourished.
The Times examined court filings in the areas where Rural/Metro operates fire departments and identified dozens of lawsuits filed since 2011, when private equity took over. In these lawsuits, which are unheard-of at tax-funded public fire departments, the company pursued unpaid bills ranging from a few hundred dollars to $59,000.
In Knoxville, Tenn., Lester Day faced one of those lawsuits. When his chimney caught fire in March 2013, he dialed 911.
When firefighters arrived almost an hour later, 911 records indicate, the house had been reduced to ashes. That didn’t stop Rural/Metro from charging Mr. Day for their response and then placing a $15,000 lien on his home, which he had since rebuilt.
Rural/Metro’s community fire service, which operates in Arizona, Oregon and Tennessee, is one of the nation’s few private fire departments. Only 4 percent of Americans rely on a private fire service. Rural/Metro mainly serves unincorporated areas without public fire departments, where often there is no government contract or public oversight.
Now it’s true enough that private Ambulance Services have been around for years. In Stars Hollow they usually operate re-purposed Hearses which are appropriate for one of their primary functions which is to transport people who have died to Funeral Parlors. The other one is transporting patients who are stable to long term care facilities (umm… Nursing Homes).
If you’re sick or injured you get the Town EMS which is usually professional and Unionized or a group of dedicated and highly trained volunteers.
Companies like these usually have 2 revenue streams. They get your tax money directly from the Government AND charge you double on top of that for whatever ‘service’ they provide.