Northampton adjusts ALS, BLS rates

Published 8:24 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

JACKSON — It will now cost Northampton County citizens more for a trip to the hospital by ambulance.

On Monday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted in a 3-1 decision to approve new ambulance charges. The change comes after Medicare adjusted its allowable rates.

Northampton County last adjusted its rates in September 2008. The old rates are as follows:

ALS (Advanced Life Support) Emergency $462.11

ALS 2 Emergency $668.85

BLS (Basic Life Support) Emergency $389.15

BLS Non-Emergency $243.23

Mileage $12.50 per loaded mile

According to information provided by Northampton County EMS Director Charles Joyner, the new rates reflect the new Medicare/Medicaid allowable and tacks on an additional 25 percent. He also noted ALS and ALS 2 rates were combined.

“The addition of 25 percent over the Medicare/Medicaid approved rate will allow Northampton County to recover the entire approved Medicare/Medicaid rate,” he said.

He said the following Medicare-adjusted rates with the additional 25 percent charge are as follows:

ALS Emergency $1,106.61

BLS Emergency $815.76

BLS Non-Emergency $747.72

Mileage $20.75 per loaded mile

Commissioner Robert Carter made a motion to approve the new rates; it was seconded by Commission Vice Chair James Hester.

Commissioner Chester Deloatch said he could not agree with the increased rates and voted against the measure.

The motion passed in a 3-1 vote with Commissioner Virginia Spruill absent.

“This is just an example of the increase cost of doing business with our federal government,” said County Manager Wayne Jenkins to the board.

Jenkins added the county only bills twice for ambulance service and the bills are never turned over to collections. Those fees not collected by the end of the year are written off.

Commissioner Robert Carter countered it was an increased cost not just from the federal government, but the state as well.

“It all filters down to the lower (local governments),” he said.