Controversy continues over town ambulance service billing
SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) — When a paramedic is needed, the ambulance service responding to the call does the transport and later reimburses the town for the advanced life support portion of the billing.
Southbury Ambulance Association gave back $103,000 in 2016 and reimbursed the town for $113,000 last year. Heritage Village Ambulance Association, reimbursed the town for its ALS calls by $25,931 and $15,043 over the same period.
First Selectman Jeffrey A. Manville filed an application with the Office of Emergency Medical Services for Southbury to take over the ambulance service at Southbury Training School, as well as provide an in-house paramedic service for the town.
The first selectman said the town has provided the paramedic service for years, but by having an in-house paramedic, rather than having a paramedic intercept with a fly car, the town will be able to bill directly.
“We have had our difficulties getting information on the billings,” Board of Finance Chairman John A. Michaels said. “How do we know we’re getting what we should be getting? I think it makes a lot of sense for the town to be in control of the billing process. The town ought to be in control of this money.”
Geralyn Hoyt, president of SAA, and George Goodwin, president of HVAA, strongly disagree with Michaels about the town not receiving the information.
“If the insinuation is that Southbury Ambulance is collecting more money than we’re passing onto the town, we’ll get that rectified,” Hoyt said. “I’ll bring in the billing company and he can ask all the questions he wants.”
She said the billing company has sat in on Board of Selectmen meetings and explained how the process works and provided information, and when officials ask for a report, Hoyt gives it to them.
“We pay the town every month for the billing,” Hoyt added. “QMC, the billing company, tells us what portion is ALS and we cut a check to the town. That’s the agreement to defray the cost of the paramedic intercept.”
Hoyt said the town treasurer has a record of the checks and, as nonprofit organizations, SAA and HVAA’s 990′s are public records. “All my records are up to date,” she said, “all my filings. I don’t know what more they want.”
Manville said he does not understand why SAA and HVAA are opposed to his application. “Assuming Southbury Ambulance is sending us what should be the reimbursement to the town, there’s no expense to Southbury Ambulance,” Manville said of the change.
Manville also said his application to OEMS would not take away the primary service areas for basic life support away from SAA nor HVAA.
Goodwin and Hoyt say the town would not make as much money on the billing as Manville and Michaels think. For instance, Hoyt said there are calls when patients do not have insurance.
“Mr. Manville clearly believes that an authoritarian model will yield superior results to a humanitarian service,” Goodwin said. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Manville said having a paramedic on staff would improve care and pointed out that SAA recently made a proposal for an in-house paramedic.
“Will it cost more? Yes,” Manville said. “We could build more parks, better roads and street lights, but we are responsible for the health and safety of this community. Our fire department and police department costs money. We are not a profit center.”
Information from: Republican-American, http://www.rep-am.com