Rod Cheney, interim director of the Fulton County Emergency Medical Service and the Emergency Management Agency, said 365 bills for ambulance runs have been submitted to Medicare, and 40 sent to commercial medical insurance firms.
“We should start to see some (money) coming in in a week or two,” Cheney told the Fulton County Commissioners during his report, Monday, June 23.
Cheney was appointed interim director after the commissioners terminated the employment of Bob Hartman, former EMS-EMA director, Monday, June 16.
Hartman was terminated after a state audit of EMS billing revealed problems. The EMS offi ce is to bill medical insurance carriers for ambulance runs, but the audit found bills that were never submitted, or were submitted improperly.
Fulton County started the policy of billing for ambulance service in 2003. Life Star, a Toledo area company, handled the billing for Fulton County for a fee.
In 2006, the commissioners decided to allow the EMS-EMA office to handle the billing, saving the county the Life Star fee.
Now, Life Star has been retained to sort out the billing problems.
Cheney told the commissioners that Life Star has agreed to audit the ambulance bills at a rate of $25 per hour.
Life Star officials estimate, “it will be two months before they get everything cleaned up,” Cheney said.
“They’re going back to 2005- 06,” he said.
One of the problems that was discovered was the EMS office was not using proper forms, and not requiring rescue squads and the county’s non-emergency transfer unit to have proper forms filled out.
Cheney said he has obtained the proper forms, including two that must be filled out by the patient’s physician and one that must be signed by the patient. He has been placing supplies of the forms at local hospitals and with the non-emergency transfer crew.
“We met with the non-emergency staff and told them the form must be filled out; it’s not an option,” Cheney told the commissioners.
In the past, county rescue squads were issued laptop computers; the goal was that paramedics and rescue crews would file the run reports electronically. However, not all departments have used the computers, while others had not used them to their full capabilities.
Cheney said he had a technician go through all the county computers to make sure all were running the same software, and the same version of the software. Additional training will be scheduled for some departments.
He said some rescue personnel were reluctant to change from their familiar handwritten reports to the new electronic system, and he admitted that at first, the program is difficult to work with.
Despite the issues, the run reports will be filed electronically in the future, Cheney said.
In response to a question from the commissioners, Cheney said a tornado siren at Assumption has been repaired.
He said he spoke to a state official, who believed the state had approved a grant for a new siren for the community.
Dean Genter, commissioner, asked about the procedure for sounding the county tornado warning sirens. Currently, Fulton County Sheriff Department dispatchers control the sirens, setting them off countywide for a tornado warning or report of a funnel cloud sighting.
Genter said setting off sirens countywide could create a “cry wolf” syndrome. Many times there will be bad weather in one part of the county, while another is clear. If people hear the sirens, but see clear weather, they may soon begin ignoring the sirens, he said.
Cheney said he will meet with Sheriff Department officials.
Cheney also discussed ordering some medical supplies in bulk to cut shipping costs.
Genter and Paul Barnaby, county commissioner, said once Life Star has the billing system sorted out, they would like to keep the billing of ambulance runs in-house.
Genter said billing locally might cost a little more, but his interest is customer service.
“If a Fulton County person has a question about a bill, they can call a Fulton County person,” he said.
Cheney said his first week as interim EMS-EMA director was great, “all things considered.
“We put things in place that needed to be put in place.”- David Pugh