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Voorheesville looking at EMS options

Tough contract negotiations spur a review, bring allegations to light

Allegations abound

— VAAS Board of Directors Chairwoman Denise Garrah said problems with the village began in 2007, when the village and Town of New Scotland requested the company bill patients transported to the hospital to offset expenses.

The company did start billing for services provided, but Garrah said Conway criticized VAAS for not starting to bill quicker. Conway told The Spotlight a prior issues was the company’s “reluctance to bill.”

Garrah added the bureaucracy around billing for services took some time to implement and some volunteers felt it was difficult to ask sick or injured patients for their insurance information.

Garrah claimed for the past five years, the village proposed “arbitrary changes” to its contract with the service, often right before the contract was about to expire. Conway vehemently disagreed with the allegation that the board did not keep the ambulance service informed.

Another issue has been meeting times, with village board meetings held at the same time as the ambulance service’s meetings, along with handling of finances.

Conway argued the ambulance service has not been fiscally responsible, but Garrah countered since the service started billing patients its costs have been reduced dramatically.

Conway said the village is not trying to do a “power grab” for the ambulance service, but he is concerned VAAS cannot provide coverage 100 percent of the time.

“I don’t want to be the guy standing there caught totally off guard and people start wondering what are you doing,” Conway said, “and part of that is being fiscally vigilant on how the money flows to them and what they are using it for.”

He said he understands the issue is “emotionally charged,” because the volunteers are “very dedicated” and emotionally attached to the company. Board members haven’t expressed any qualms over the quality of service being provided.

“I think we are both trying to do what we think is best for the village and village taxpayers,” Conway said, “but we are just coming at it from different perspectives.”

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