Jackson County Times

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Friday, March 12, 2010

“Ambulance Wars” Continue In Jackson County

County Commission Denies Proposed Ambulance Agreement with Jackson Hospital-Conflict over ambulance transfer procedures continues

By Sid Riley

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Jackson County Commission, the disagreement between the County Commissioners, Jackson County Fire and Rescue, and Jackson Hospital continued. A letter was sent to the Commission by Jackson Hospital Administrator, Larry Meese, along with a proposed agreement. The Commission denied the proposal.

In the letter, Meese expressed his hopes to County Administrator Ted Lakey that the new agreement between the hospital and the County would meet with their approval. He noted that the proposal complemented the current agreement which provided payment of Medicaid rates for inmate transportation, which saved the county over $100,000 in 2009. He stated that both parties had agreed to the base Medicaid rate per run.

The issues in this matter involve the use of outside ambulance services for some patient transfers, which organization will bill for ambulance services in some instances, and what preferences should be awarded to the County Fire and Rescue ambulance service over outside vendors.

The issue initially arose when Jackson Hospital, during the term of the previous interim Administrator, Richard McConahy, entered into a contract agreement with Pilcher Ambulance Service in Dothan, for patient transfers from Jackson Hospital.

The proposed agreement would have paid the County $190 base plus $6.75 per mile the Medicare mileage rate for transfers where the hospital is responsible for payment. For out-of-county transfers, the Hospital would be able to use JCFR or Pilcher’s Ambulance Service if needed.

For transports for which the patient, another responsible party, or an insurer is responsible, the agreement would provide for JCFR to first bill and attempt to collect from the patient, responsible party, or insurer at the base rate of $415 plus $10.00 per mile.

The Commission unanimously denied this proposal….so the conflict rages anew.

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