HOUSTON, April 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, the Board of Commissioners of Harris County ESD 11 put the citizens they serve first by approving a budget for ambulance provider CCEMS to serve out the last remaining months of its contract.
The budget approval comes after months of heated negotiations in which CCEMS repeatedly threatened to cease providing lifesaving services if ESD 11 did not pay exactly what CCEMS was demanding. ESD 11 has sued CCEMS and its officers and directors for fraud over their pattern of overbilling and misusing taxpayer dollars in the past. Recently during budget negotiations, CCEMS tried to continue its pattern of using bully tactics to make off with even more taxpayer money.
"First they told us they could not and would not provide services this year for a penny less than $1.7 million per month," said ESD 11 General Counsel Regina Adams of Radcliffe Bobbitt Adams Polley PLLC. "When we asked them to back up that number with details, they lowered it to $1.5 million per month and threatened not to provide services if we paid them a penny less than that," Adams said. "When our Board again asked that CCEMS prove up its demand for $1.5 million per month, CCEMS lowered its demand again, this time to $1.35 million per month."
Last week, on the afternoon before an ESD 11 Special Board Meeting to approve or reject CCEMS's latest budget, counsel for CCEMS wrote in a letter that, "if [ESD 11] does not approve the requested budget amount ($10,874,263 paid as $1,359,283 per month) then our last day to provide emergency medical services under the Services Contract is Saturday, April 17, 2021."
Faced with a choice between continuing to do battle with CCEMS, which was holding ESD 11 hostage and threatening to cease providing ambulance service to over 600,000 ESD 11 residents on April 17th, the Commissioners approved a budget of approximately $1.35 million per month to CCEMS for its remaining months. Despite ongoing concerns about CCEMS's use of taxpayer dollars, the Commissioners agreed to a compromise that would make certain the people who live in the District will have an ambulance available if they need one. "We still believe CCEMS is overcharging ESD 11, but ESD 11 will address that in the lawsuit," Adams said. "Last week, however, our primary goal was to ensure that ESD 11 residents have the emergency care they are used to and that goal was accomplished."
"ESD 11 has a job to do, and we're working hard to do it," Adams said. "By pushing CCEMS on its wildly inflated budget numbers, the ESD 11 Board saved the citizens about $400,000 per month. ESD 11 is satisfied that with this agreement, ESD 11 has secured CCEMS's service through the beginning of September. At that point, ESD 11 will begin operating its own more cost-effective and technologically advanced EMS service - one that will put nine more ambulances on the road while saving millions of taxpayer dollars every year. ESD 11 is confident that as a condition of payment, CCEMS will cooperate with the ongoing financial investigation and that it will provide appropriate backup information to the District for the funds it requests."
SOURCE Harris Co. ESD No. 11
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