By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday gave County Administrator Doug Walker the go ahead to hire a company to handle billing for ambulance fees.
The board voted 5-1, with District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese voting against the proposal, to hire EMS/MC, of Lewisville, N.C., to bill insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid for ambulance rides.
Neese said after the meeting he was concerned the practice could lead to higher premiums.
County residents won't have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses, the county has said.
Under the current system, Shenandoah County rescue squads do not charge fees for ambulance rides.
"No co-pays, no deductibles, no out-of-pocket," Walker said.
Patients from outside of the county would be billed, though, he said.
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the supervisors voted 5-1 to hire an EMS billing technician.
Chairman Conrad Helsley cast the only dissenting vote because he didn't agree with the pay grade that would accompany the position.
The job is being advertised as a grade 13, with a pay range of $27,000-$40,000. District 3 Supervisor David Ferguson asked where that fell position-wise, if it was like a clerk's or secretary's level.
Walker said it was equivalent to the current services coordinator position in the county Department of Fire and Rescue.
"We see this more as a finance technician type of position," he said.
The person hired will be a liaison between EMS/MC and the patients, Walker said.
"I haven't heard anything yet that tells me or leads me to believe that this position is a grade 13 because of what I'm hearing so far," Ferguson said. "They're not interfacing with the public. They're not interfacing with insurance agencies. They're taking data from an EMS provider and making sure that the data is correct. It sounds very clerical in nature, and it does sound very redundant in nature."
Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said whoever's hired would need to have some EMS background to know what level of service is provided so the bill would correlate to that.
"So, you're telling me [there are fees for] more than just transport?" Ferguson said.
Yew said transport fees are based on what's performed in the field, whether it was basic or advanced life support.
"There could be a minimum of four or five different levels of billing," he said.
Helsley said he didn't question the need for the position, but the grade it was assigned. Assistant County Administrator Mary Beth Price said county secretaries are at grade 11, while Yew said EMTs are at grade 17.
"It's a formula," District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli said.
A few years ago, Springsted did a salary study to create a reliable formula, she said.
"I really hate to question that formula and that data now because then you go back and you question everything and every position," Baroncelli said.
The county has researched billing for ambulance rides for years, she said.
"It's in the millions that we've been missing out on," Baroncelli said.