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City turns over EMS billing to Cincy company

Urbana believes move will generate additional revenue.

Urbana city staff have signed a three-year contract with a Cincinnati company that could help generate thousands of dollars of additional revenue for the city each year.

Over the past four years, the city has collected more than $1.7 million in fees for Emergency Medical Service runs, said Lee Williams, finance director for Urbana.

The city’s new contract with Medicount Management Inc. will allow the company to take over billing duties. In return, the company will receive 6.5 percent of the revenue it collects each year. The city collected $424,000 in revenue from EMS billing in 2012, said Mark Keller, chief of the Urbana Fire Division.

Previously, a city finance employee handled those duties, and a portion of the salary was being paid from revenue from the Urbana Fire Division. But Williams said the employee was not an expert in billing. He estimated the city could collect as much as an additional $40,000 annually, and possibly more, by allowing Medicount to conduct the service.

Several other local communities also have similar contracts with Medicount in place, including West Liberty, Bellefontaine and St. Paris, Williams said.

“We’re going from doing it in-house, with very inexperienced people, to having a company do it,” Keller said.

Paramedics made 1,608 runs that involved transporting patients in 2012, Keller said. The city charges $550 for the most basic calls, and $675 per run for more serious calls, including those that include administering medication. Runs for the most serious medical emergencies cost $775. Residents are not charged for an ambulance run unless they are transported.

The city receives the largest reimbursements when they are able to bill runs to a patient’s insurance, Williams said. But the city has seen more Medicare and Medicaid runs in the past few years, which pay a smaller amount back to the city.

The city expects to collect additional revenue because Medicount specializes in billing, which should make that service more timely and accurate, Williams said.

The company is also more experienced with working with insurance companies, which could also mean less hassle for residents during billing, Keller said.

“I think it’ll be better in that aspect for the customer,” Keller said.

The city employee who handled billing will be reduced to part-time, saving the city an additional $11,000 in pay and benefits. The employee was notified of the change months in advance, Williams said.

Staff in the fire division are making additional changes to improve efficiency, including installing laptops in the city’s three ambulances. Now, paramedics have to write a paper report while at the scene, then type it into the computer system when they return to the office. The new laptops will be connected to the city’s computer system, saving time and improving accuracy.

The laptops will also allow paramedics to have access to the same information available to dispatchers. For example, they could provide access to additional maps or alert them if the patient has special needs.

The Springfield city commissioners also recently approved a one-year extension of a billing contract with Med3000 to conduct similar billing services. In Springfield, the city has collected as much as $13 million with the help of the company since that contract was originally signed in 2006. Under that agreement, Med3000 collects 6.1 percent of the net revenue collected, for a maximum of $189,100. The city is expected to generate about $3.1 million throughout the extension.

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