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Ambulance transport fees may rise for county

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County residents may soon see an increase in fees charged for patients transported to the hospital by ambulance.

Marti Viggiano, captain of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services' cost recovery program, will present a proposal on the increase to the Board of Supervisors this morning.

Four fees are associated with the cost, including basic life support, advanced life support and mileage. The increase in each area ranges from $5.50 to $225.

County residents with medical insurance will have their insurance companies billed for the fees, and co-pays and deductibles will be waived, according to the policy. Fees will be waived for those without insurance.

Hardship waivers also will be available to patients who are unable to pay because of financial troubles.

If the fees are not increased, the county could be accused of fraud, Viggiano said.
She had the CEO of Fidelis, the agency's billing company, write an explanation for the board.

"In establishing fees for an EMS agency, the agency must follow the Medicare Ambulance Fee Schedule guidelines. The Medicare allowable becomes the base line for an agency to determine the rates it should charge for an ambulance transport," according to the written explanation.

The explanation says the county needs to have rates 25 to 30 percent higher than what is allowed by Medicare.

"We definitely want Warren County to be compliant and we do not want to put Warren County in any undue audits by Medicare," the document says.

"It's all so complicated," said Viggiano, who doesn't foresee any issues in gaining approval for the increases.

Viggiano also will ask the board to authorize an agreement between the fire and rescue departments in Warren and Shenandoah counties stating that "if either county transports a patient from the other, the patient will be billed as a resident of the transporting county."

"It's saving the residents money," she said.

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