The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider approving a five-year contract with Sierra Medical Services Alliance, the Nevada nonprofit that is buying out Riggs Ambulance Service, the longtime Merced County provider.
The ambulance contract before the board comes after more than three months of contract negotiations with SEMSA and Riggs, which won the bidding process in May.
SEMSA has managed Riggs for the last nine years and planned to acquire Riggs if the 66-year-old Merced County company won the bidding for the multimillion-dollar ambulance contract.
If approved, SEMSA’s new contract will begin Jan. 1 and run through Dec. 31, 2019. SEMSA will be responsible for paying the county $75,000 to cover costs associated with the bidding process, according to county documents.
American Medical Response challenged for the contract the second year in a row. A heated dispute brewed in 2012 and 2013 after Riggs lost the ambulance contract to AMR and appealed the decision, claiming that the bidding process was flawed.
A controversial decision by the Board of Supervisors in January 2013 canceled the award to AMR and restarted the bidding. A new “Request for Proposal” was released in February after Merced County officials hired new consultants to draft the bidding documents.
Although Riggs won the contract bidding in May, a team of evaluators expressed concerns about the provider’s financial stability because of the planned buyout by SEMSA.
The planned acquisition raised concerns about whether the nonprofit would be able to acquire Riggs and still fund Merced County’s ambulance operations, according to a May 16 letter from the county’s purchasing department. The letter outlined its intent to award the contract to Riggs, but also questioned the company’s financial stability.
If approved, the new five-year contract with SEMSA allows an extension for an additional five years.
The Board of Supervisors will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday in its chamber on the third floor of the Merced County Administration Building, 2222 M St.