The 40 Cent Fight

“I don’t understand,” the District Court Judge states, “this is for 40 cents?”    Well, it was much more than that.   There is a particular statute in Nevada that prevents health providers from charging more than 60 cents a page for medical records.   The City of Las Vegas, which operates the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, which provides ambulance services, was charging $1.00 per page.   The pretext was that the City was not specifically listed in the statute and the City was not a “health care provider.”  I attempted the use of logic, but I was unsuccessful.   The City refused to abide by the statute, and thus our office filed a class action lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.  See Garcia, et. al. v. City of Las Vegas et. al, A-15-722576-C, District Court, Clark County.    My clients, Ms. Garcia and Ms. Williams were both charged $1.00 per page and both agreed to volunteer as class representatives.  They understood the goal.   It was not to recover $2.40 (.40 cent overcharge times 6 pages), but to stop the City of Las Vegas from over charging in the future.

In 2013, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue had approximately 106,190 incidents, and 16,353 people were transported.   In 2014, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue had 112,951 incidents and 24,190 people were transported.  From January to July 20, 2015, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue had 67,788 incidents and 13,579 people were transported.   If the tens of thousands of people or their representatives wanted copies of ambulance records (usually 6-8 pages), they were overcharged.   NRS 629.061 prohibited health care providers from charging more than .60 cents per page.  Based upon the vast number of individuals transported, and the number of records requested, this was not a 40 cent case.   It was a case of justice.  A case that required the City of Las Vegas to explain why the statutory limitation did not apply to the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Ambulance service and/or why they illogically argued that their ambulance service was not a “health care provider.”   At some point, logic has to dictate.

In October 2015, the City of Las Vegas stated it would change its policy for ambulance records and start charging the 60 cent per page as authorized by NRS 629.061.   The City of Las Vegas stated that a recent 2015 amendment added emergency medical technicians and certified paramedics to the definition of health provider.   Frankly, I personally do not think the 2015 amendment changed much.   It was simply an excuse for the City to justify its failure to follow the statute in the past.   Nonetheless, the goal was to stop the City from over charging in the future, and the City was now willing to abide by the statute.  The reasoning or logic behind the City’s decision did not matter as much as achieving the ultimate goal.   The goal was achieved: the City of Las Vegas, Fire & Rescue now charges only 60 cents per page for medical records as limited by NRS 629.061.