Ripley County leaders are responsible for providing emergency medical services to citizens. “They contract out with the different units” in Batesville, Sunman, Milan and Versailles. Over the last decade, the amount paid annually to Batesville EMS 10 has risen just $3,500 to $37,500, Mayor Rick Fledderman pointed out at a special Jan. 27 Batesville Board of Works meeting as members contemplated signing the 2014 contract.
County EMS department heads have been meeting at least monthly since April 2013 to try and figure out solutions to revenue hardships, reported Batesville Fire Chief Todd Schutte, who oversees Batesville EMS 10. He said EMS money woes extend across the nation. “With the changes in the health care act, we’ll probably see a reduction of fees coming back to us for services …”
The mayor said, “I’ve challenged Todd to come up with some ways we can reduce some costs” or add revenue. The county did decrease the fee if a paramedic is needed on a Batesville EMS 10 run from $150 to $50. According to Schutte, “If we go with our projected numbers, it’s going to cost us $12,000 for a paramedic” in 2014 instead of $33,300 and $27,600 for 2013 and 2012, respectively, which could save around $20,000.
Schutte presented three tactics that could boost revenues:
• Change billing method. Of $352,676 billed last year, just $187,430 or 53 percent was collected. “We’re writing off almost as much as we’re taking in. That’s due to the way we’re billing.” He wants to change from an insurance billing method to soft billing. So far “none of the citizens in the area receive a bill for our services,” just insurance companies. In the future, after the insurance company pays, the remainder due will be the responsibility of the patient. “I feel that’s a fair way to do it.”
Member Gene Lambert asked about the outcomes of other EMS services that use collection agencies. Schutte said Rescue 69, Versailles, which uses a one, reported a “minimal amount” more dollars generated. Councilman Darrick Cox favored using a collection agency. “It gives you some backbone, some teeth,” he contended. Fledderman expected more discussion at the next council meeting. Lambert suggested changing the billing method for a year and reviewing numbers then.