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Delinquent EMS Bills

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Joined: May 16 2008
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    Posted: Jan 18 2015 at 12:06pm

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015

City to use AG office to collect delinquent EMS bills

By Vivienne Machi

Staff Writer

HAMILTON 

In an effort to retrieve as much new revenue as possible with a tough budget for 2015 and beyond, the city of Hamilton will partner with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to collect 100 percent of unpaid delinquent bills for emergency medical services.

Hamilton City Council voted at Wednesday’s meeting on a resolution to create an agreement between the city and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for the AG office to collect any delinquent EMS bills for the city, which would allow more of the bill to go straight into the city’s funds than their current arrangement with third-party physician billing services MBI Solutions.

“Currently, the city writes off a significant amount of debt associated with billed but unpaid invoices associated with the cost of providing EMS service to citizens,” reads the report associated with the City Council agenda item.

City finance director Tom Vanderhorst elaborated, saying that third-party collections agencies can take their fees out of the delinquent bill, meaning that the city would see less than 100 percent of the bill they’re owed. But through the AG’s program, their 10 percent collection fee is an additional charge for the debtor, meaning the city can collect the full amount of the bill.

Vanderhorst could not give a possible dollar amount of savings that the city could see from this program, but said that estimates could be “in the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Vanderhorst added that the city has been in discussions with the attorney general’s office about this program since September 2014, at the start of Hamilton’s 2015 finance talks.

AG communications spokesperson Dan Tierney said that the program, a local government debt collection service, began in 2012 and originally collected for courts. This year, the program has expanded to include things like unpaid emergency bills.

“We collect non-revolving debt, so not utilities, or anything like that,” he said. “These are final one-time debts like EMS bills or court fees.”

The benefit to the local government is that the attorney general’s office has language that allows them to charge the debtor for their collections fees, unlike the third-party collectors, he said.

“We have the statutory allowance to do so, our operations are designed for government collections, so we decided to offer the program,” he said. Currently, the local cities of Avon, Bedford Heights, Brooklyn, East Palestine, Lakewood, North Olmsted and Olmsted Twp. participate in the EMS collections program. Tierney said the full program services several dozen entities, including clerks of courts and some local technical schools.

A benefit to the debtor: The attorney general’s office can tack the collections fee onto their local income taxes, or remove it from lottery winnings.

“Instead of us paying you and then you paying us, the fee is just applied to your debt,” he said. “So instead of having to come up with that money, it will come out of your taxes, and it doesn’t come out of your checkbook.”

Taking the fee off of lottery or casino and racino winnings is obviously based on luck if the debtor happened to win, Tierney said, but the attorney general’s office’s authority to collect from those winnings provide another source to help offset the collection fee for the local government.

City officials hope this could be a new source of revenue to offset possible structural deficits in the next couple of years.

Hamilton expects a $1.6 million general fund budget deficit in 2015, and while the annual ending fund balance is still projected to be at a safe level, diminishing revenue sources are concerning to city officials. Currently, the city’s revenue sources include real estate taxes, where $2.26 million has been budgeted for 2015, fairly steady with previous yearly budgets; EMS life squad insurance, budgeted at $1.57 million for 2015, down from $1.699 million in 2012; and Hamilton’s largest revenue source remains income taxes, where 2015 numbers project $17,655,000, up from $17.3 million in 2014. Hamilton receives small amounts of revenue from a variety of sources, including issuing birth certificates, collecting motel taxes, and miscellaneous donations.

Hamilton firefighters responded to 9,822 EMS runs, 7,144 transports and 2,678 non-transports in 2014, according to data provided by the fire department.

So far, the net revenue received for those runs is $1,584,029, said EMS Coordinator Mark Mignery.

“If you divide that number by the total number of transports, you will get an average of $221.73 collected per call (as of today),” he wrote in an email Friday to the Journal-News. “That number will rise as October, November and Decembers payment trickle in over the next 3-6 months.”

The Hamilton Fire Department has sent out delinquent bills adding up to $5,390,656, for which insurance companies have contractual adjustments in the amount of $2,709,967, Mignery said.

 

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Joined: May 16 2008
Location: Middletown, Ohi
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Points: 4187
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 18 2015 at 12:12pm
HELP!...I thought the State Court ruled against the collection of these fees several years ago because the Fire & EMT Depts are paid for by tax papers dollars.

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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 18 2015 at 6:52pm
Originally posted by Vivian Moon Vivian Moon wrote:

HELP!...I thought the State Court ruled against the collection of these fees several years ago because the Fire & EMT Depts are paid for by tax papers dollars.



Don't know Vivian. We have used the medical response in Middletown several times in the last five years. I receive an EOB from Anthem on the service. The charge is over $700 + mileage to the hospital each time they respond. The city has signed a contract with the insurance that they will accept around $600. I pay Middletown around $34 bucks.

Is the $34 bucks from Middletown an illegal charge?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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