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SOS: Woman celebrates arrival of tax refund delayed by ambulance bill

January 21, 2019

Laura Molumby’s January 2018 trip in a Madison Fire Department ambulance took only a few minutes, and luckily, she suffered no permanent damage from the fall she took in her apartment on Madison’s Southwest Side and that laid her up for four or five days in a UW Hospital bed.

The financial consequences of the relatively minor medical mishap, however, lasted another 12 months.

Molumby’s bill for the ambulance was about $900, she said, which she couldn’t afford on her fixed income. So she contacted the city of Madison to see about her options, and after three calls was finally led through the process for filing for an ambulance hardship waiver, a city program that reduces or wipes out ambulance charges for households whose incomes fall below certain levels.

Then, nothing.

She said her bill to the city remained outstanding and, to make matters worse, the state Department of Revenue had withheld her $284 Homestead Credit refund — the totality of her 2017 tax refund — under a state law that allows the DOR to redirect the tax refunds of citizens who owe money to local government agencies to those government agencies.

Oh, and in August torrential rains flooded her apartment complex and forced residents to evacuate.

Molumby, 83, said she sent a letter to the city and the DOR laying out her predicament on June 26, but that garnered no response, either. In December, she contacted SOS.

SOS contacted the DOR and the city treasurer on Dec. 17, and a representative from the city’s Finance Department — which handles ambulance billing — was on the phone with Molumby less than two hours later. Finance Department representative Wendy Murkve said she was working with Molumby “to complete the hardship waiver application so we can resolve this issue.”

DOR revenue agent Lisa Denmark acknowledged SOS’ Dec. 17 email on Dec. 20, but said it could not go into detail about Molumby’s case without a form giving SOS power of attorney. Murkve also said that due to federal health privacy law, she could not discuss the particulars of Molumby’s case.

Molumby and SOS stayed in touch, and on Jan. 14, she let SOS know that she received her check for $284 on Jan. 12.

She described Murkve as “very gracious and very supportive of me” and thanked SOS for its work.

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