In March 12 IssueBy Kim GrahamNews-Register Reporter
A new EMS billing rate schedule, including rate increases, was presented by Russell County EMS Director Terry Hancock at the Russell County Ambulance Board's regularly scheduled meeting this week.
"I've been talking to some other counties about our rates that we're currently charging and we're under everybody quite a bit," said Hancock.
Even with proposed rates, Hancock said the county's rates will still be less than those of neighboring counties but will bring rates closer in line to area EMS charges.
Hancock said he spoke to Casey County EMS officials who told him rates there are significantly higher the Russell County's.
"Their (Advanced Life Support) Non-Emergency rate is $500 and ALS Emergency rate is $600," said Hancock. "We do need to show some increases on rates."
After brief discussion, the board unanimously approved an overall average of 24 percent increase in billing rates as follows:
Basic Life Support Non-Emergency: previous rate $250 - new rate $300
Basic Life Support Emergency: previous rate $350 - new rate $400
Advanced Life Support Non-Emergency: previous rate $250 - new rate $400
Advanced Life Support Emergency: previous rate $400 - new rate $500
Advance Life Support Specialty Care: previous rate $525 - new rate $600
Loaded Mileage: previous rate $9.50 - new rate $10.50
Gray said the majority of EMS services are billed to Medicaid and Medicare contributing to a high percentage of loss.
"What we need the public to understand is 30 percent of fees charged are never collected," said Gray. "Medicare and Medicaid have set amounts they reimburse EMS so they may not pay the full rate and delinquent or unpaid debts also contribute to uncollectible fees."
In an effort to collect unpaid debts, EMS officials are researching collection companies.
Hancock said he has contacted several collection companies in an effort to collect past due bills. He said Ambulance Board Attorney Kevin Shearer plans to review the companies' credentials. Additional companies have yet to send in their documentation.
Hancock also submitted an amended budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year to account for the EMS and 911 Dispatch split last October.
"Last July, when our new year started, we had a budget and we approved that budget," said Gray. "At the time EMS and 911 were still together."
"Since that time, we've separated and really up until last month we were still getting bills we had to pay relating to that…it's just now kind of getting cleared up," Gray said.
The board decided to review the proposed budget and address it at the next regularly scheduled meeting in April.
In other business:
• After some discussion, the ambulance board unanimously approved a new Russell County EMS Employee Handbook with the understanding that amendments may be made to the employee sick leave policy pending additional information from Board Attorney Kevin Shearer.
• A Paramedic Class that was planned for Russell County may not have enough participants to go ahead Hancock said. The class requires 12 attendees.