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Town reviewing soaring costs for ambulance services

“Currently, if we have an ALS-type call that requires a county paramedic, there’s no billing that takes place for the ALS side,” said George Lenhardt, the Chairman of the Board of Ambulance Commissioners. “It’s only for the BLS side from a transporting agency. If billing starts to occur there, they (the county) should derive a good amount of their revenue through the insurance billing process. Hopefully the cost to the town taxpayers stays steady or goes down.”

Estimates are that by modifying the contract to allow for ALS billing, the town could save $200,000-$300,000. It could also result in lower rates for individuals billed for services. Attorneys for both the town and county have been in discussions to make the proposal a reality.

Both Messina and Supervisor-elect John Clarkson have had ongoing conversations with the commissioners to find out if savings can be achieved.

“I think the work they’re doing is very important in terms of helping to point out how we can maximize revenues by having a contract between the county and the transporters,” said Clarkson.

Lenhardt said he couldn’t explain why the town hasn’t explored the contracts in the past to find savings. He ventured a guess that town officials weren’t looking at things in any great depth or understanding the extent of the impacts.

Lenhardt said the board of three commissioners would like to get more involved in reviewing the contracts.

“These current contracts require periodic financial reporting by our vendors,” said Lenhardt. “We’re going to propose that the reporting come through our board, and then go to the Comptroller’s office. We’re going to review those things. If it looks like it’s possible to derive even more savings by other methods, we’re going to explore those.”

Following the adaptation of contracts for ambulance services, the commissioners will turn their focus to a service issue. Lenhardt said they will seek to mandate equal performance standards across all agencies that provide emergency medical services to the town.

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