- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:00
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The Westmoreland supervisors voted last week to join Essex County and two other Northern Neck jurisdictions in creation of a regional billing service that promises to optimize collection of ambulance fees. The proposed in-house collection agency will be headquartered in Warsaw in the District Planning Office.
With the exception of Northumberland County, every jurisdiction on the Northern Neck has independently contracted with a private collection agency
to recover emergency medical transport costs. The contractors are paid on a percentage basis and are tasked with billing private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid.
Local jurisdictions have been unable to control contracted billing practices. Volunteer organizations and public officials share concerns that contractors engage in cherry picking, expending too little effort on collection of past-due or otherwise difficult accounts. The expectation is that greater local control will result in optimized returns on emergency transport claims.
While Northumberland does not currently bill for emergency medical transport services, that jurisdiction has participated in the talks and has the ability to participate in the regional effort at a later date. The memorandum of understanding the Westmoreland supervisors approved last week lists Essex, Lancaster, Westmoreland and Richmond counties as the participating jurisdictions.
“Essex, Lancaster, Richmond and Westmoreland counties have been utilizing the services of private sector companies for ambulance billing services,” the memorandum states.
“Each of the jurisdictions pays between 8 percent and 7 percent of the total monthly collections to the private vendors for this service. The four counties believe that they can jointly administer an in-house regional billing program operated out of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission at a lower administrative cost, improve service for area residents utilizing emergency ambulance services and increase the percentage of collections through cooperation with local treasurers.
“Implementation of this program should result in more revenue recovery funds becoming available for emergency ambulance services.”
The memorandum document tasks each Board of Supervisors with appointing the County Administrator or the Administrator’s designee as the jurisdiction’s representative on a newly created Emergency Ambulance Service Revenue Recovery Board (EASRRB).
The EASRRB will be charged with hiring collection agency staff, establishing billing policies and procedures, ensuring compliance with requirements to maintain Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance payments and developing the collection agency’s administrative budget.
Each jurisdiction will contribute $25,000 to offset costs associated with establishing the regional collection agency. Jurisdictions will contribute 5 percent of the respective collections to fund agency costs that include employee compensation and benefits, office expense and other administrative costs. Collection agency staff will be categorized as Northern Neck Planning District Commission employees.
Each jurisdiction will agree to participate in the regional collection program for a period to three years, with provisions for a 12-month notice of intention to withdraw from the initiative. Emergency ambulance service fees will be established by the individual locality and the emergency transport providers will submit a patient’s care report to the new regional collection agency.