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Fee hike approved

WINTON – An increase in the reimbursement rates paid by Medicare for Advance Level Services (ALS) offered through EMS entities will funnel more federal dollars into the counties taking advantage of that service fee hike.

Hertford County will become one of many local government entities to take Medicare up on its offer.

Last week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, by majority vote, agreed to a recommendation made by HC EMS Director James Broglin to increase the fees charged while answering ALS calls.

In explaining the measure, Broglin said HC EMS now charges the ALS1 rate.

“On CPR/cardiac arrest calls, our Advanced EMTs can administer medications to assist in patient resuscitation,” Broglin said. “If they administer two or more of certain medications, we can charge at a higher rate.”

He added that the billing company (EMS Management and Consultants) identified some recent calls answered by HC EMS that would qualify for the higher charge.

“We haven’t increased any of our charges since 2013 as we normally wait for Medicare to increase theirs,” Broglin stressed. “With this new ALS2 level, we’re leaving money on the table if we don’t take advantage of it.”

Broglin said it was up to the county commissioners to approve the fee increase for this level of service.

The proposed increases are $642.30 (from ($521.90) for advanced level emergencies; $250 (from $225) for calls where emergency aid is administered at the scene and then the patient opts not to be transported to a medical facility; $540.89 (from $439.50) for basic level (lowest level) emergency calls; $338.06 (from $325) for non-emergency calls; and $540.89 (from $439.50) for DOA transports.

The new Medicare rates also increase the reimbursement for mileage from $13.96 to $17.15 per mile.

“This is basically a case of money we’re eligible to draw down from Medicare that we are not currently drawing down,” said County Manager Loria Williams.

Commissioner Bill Mitchell motioned to approve the rate increase. It passed by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner John Horton offering the lone dissent.

“I don’t feel we should milk the system (Medicare),” said Horton when asked, following the meeting, of the reasoning for his “no” vote.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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