Northampton adjusts EMS rates

Published 10:46 am Friday, September 23, 2011

JACKSON — In lieu of Northampton County contracting with a third party billing agency for EMS patient invoices, ambulance service rates have been adjusted and other new rates have been added.

On Monday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved the fee adjustments that were made after EMS Director Charles Joyner met with a client analyst with EMS Management and Consultants.

Joyner said the client analyst made the following recommendations:

ALS (Advance Life Support) Non-Emergency – $314.53

ALS Emergency – $498

BLS (Basic Life Support) Non-Emergency – $262.10

BLS Emergency – $419.36

ALS 2 Emergency – $720.79

Mileage – $13 per loaded mile

Standby – $75/ 30 minutes

Treat, no Transport – $125

Joyner noted ALS Emergency and Non-Emergency, Standby and Treat, No Transport were additions to the current fee schedule.

“The addition of a treat, no transport fee will address patients that request treatment and/or examination by EMS personnel, but refuse to be transported to a hospital,” he said. “This will also address the patients that are cared for on scene by EMS personnel and then airlifted to specialty care centers for further treatment.”

Joyner said approximately one-fourth of ambulance calls are treat, no transport.

“The standby fee was added to insure that a uniform charge for standbys for special events is in place,” he said.

In January, the board approved fees that were higher in comparison to the recommendations from EMS Management and Consultants.

The previous rate schedule was:

ALS Emergency $1,106.61 (combined rate)

BLS Emergency $815.76

BLS Non-Emergency $747.72

Mileage $20.75 per loaded mile

“Basically the reason behind (the recommended lower fees) is most of our patients are Medicare and Medicaid recipients” said Joyner. “Medicare and Medicaid will only pay a certain amount regardless of what you charge.”

Commission Chair Fannie Greene asked Joyner to explain the matter further.

Joyner said according to the billing agency, what the county was currently charging is above what Medicare and Medicaid will reimburse.

“You want to charge a little bit above that in order to be sure you recoup everything, because they only approve so much and they will only pay 80 percent of what they approve,” he said. “Some of the rates we have were $400-$500 above what the Medicare rates were, so instead of having to write off $200 for a call, we’re writing off $500. We’re more over on the debt end than the collection end.”

The board approved the measure without objection.