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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fee agreement best option available

Brad Botwin's letter ("Ambulance fee gouge," Web, Aug. 20) is ill-informed. Let me set the record straight.

Marcine Goodloe and Eric Bernard, leaders of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association (MCVFRA), have been tireless in their opposition to ambulance fees, including their successful effort to defeat ambulance fees at the November 2010 ballot box.

The Montgomery County Council -- over MCVFRA's vocal objection -- passed ambulance fee legislation in May 2012 by a wide, 6-3 margin. The MCVFRA and other departments did begin the petition drive process and collected thousands of signatures. At the same time the county executive -- to his credit -- offered to negotiate a solution to the volunteers' concerns. Had an acceptable agreement not been reached, the volunteers would have collected the necessary signatures and put this on the November ballot.

Ultimately, negotiations between the county and MCVFRA were successful, committing the county to work in good faith to implement a first-in-the-nation, insurance-only billing regime where no person, county resident or not, will receive any bill for co-pays or out-of-pocket charges for ambulance transport. The agreement commits the county to pursuing such a system. When a good solution is offered, it can be wise to take it. That's what happened here.

Our society would be better off with more public service leaders like Ms. Goodloe and Mr. Bernard -- and fewer armchair quarterbacks who are loose with their rhetoric and their facts.

JOHN T. BENTIVOGLIO

Counsel

Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association

Washington

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