Fluvanna Review

One of many trees at the Williams’ home.Five Lake Monticello families are ready to open their doors to share their holiday traditions during the 24th Annual Holiday House Tour, Saturday (Dec. 8).
Open this year are the West home, 30 Seminole Trail; the Seehaver home, 40A Marwood Drive; the Williams home, 9 Adrian Road; the Stenger home, 23 Whippoorwill Lane; and the LaRosa home, 6 Hawk’s Place.

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Starting Sept. 1, Fluvanna County residents will have to pay for ambulance rides for the first time ever. The newness of the program has left some residents with questions about how cost recovery will work.

Why did supervisors approve cost recovery?
The Board of Supervisors approved fees for ambulance transport plus a billing model and start date for the program on Wednesday night (July 15).

Insurance normally pays when people need ambulance transport to the hospital, Emergency Services Coordinator Cheryl Elliott explained to supervisors. “We have been leaving money on the table,” she said, by not collecting fees for what has thus far been a free service. By leaving that money untouched, Elliott continued, the county is saying it would rather spend tax dollars to fund emergency medical services than take advantage of money that is sitting ready for that purpose.

Fire and rescue in Fluvanna County cost $2.4 million yearly, Elliott said, funded by Fluvanna taxpayers and those who give direct contributions to agencies. “We’d like to see the insurance companies take a little more of that cost,” she said.

How much will cost recovery bring in?
It’ll take a couple years to really get a sense for what kind of return the county can expect on cost recovery. Fees have been set at 125 percent of Medicare’s allowable charge, which right now translates into costs per ambulance ride of $444 to about $762, with mileage charges of $13.78 per mile for miles 1-17 and $9.18 per mile for every mile thereafter.

Based on these figures, Elliott estimated receiving between $368 and $386 per transport, resulting in an annual intake of between $754,787 to $791,723.

What is compassionate billing?
Supervisors settled on compassionate billing as the model for Fluvanna’s cost recovery program.

In compassionate billing, the full amount charged goes to insurance first, Elliott explained. Insurance will likely pay a portion of that amount. Medicare, she said, may pay about 80 percent. The balance of the bill will then go to the patient.

Patients will receive bills, then 30- and 60-day notices from EMS|MC, the billing company hired by Fluvanna. Under a compassionate billing system, unpaid balances are eventually written off rather than sent to collections.

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Without much warning, Two J’s Smokehouse closed Sept. 1.

But barbeque lovers don’t despair, Two J’s is reopening around the corner in the same building, said co-owner Megan Ball.

 

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Lake Monticello Police Chief Thomas BoisvertLake Monticello Owners Association meetings have taken on a different flair under Valerie Palamountain’s leadership.

Palamountain now has each department head reporting to the Board at the monthly meeting and that includes crime statistics from Lake Police Chief Thomas Boisvert.
“I introduced it – asking police, maintenance, and finance to make the reports,” Palamountain said. “(General Manager) CatherIne  Neelley will give reports on the big things. It makes for a more open board.”

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Rumblings in the community of issues at the Fluvanna County SPCA surfaced at the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night (July 15), as eight residents addressed the Board with comments related to recent SPCA troubles including an investigation by the sheriff’s office.
There is a “pattern of disregard for public safety displayed again and again by the Fluvanna County SPCA,” said resident Rose Lemaster to supervisors during public comments. She told three stories, including one of a dog deemed by a behaviorist to be aggressive toward men and children. The SPCA allowed a family with a 5-year-old to adopt the dog, she said, and within three days the dog “ripped half of [the] child’s face off.” The child is now facing at least six plastic surgeries, she said. “Fluvanna County pays the SPCA for pound services,” she said, “but I want to strongly encourage you that it may be time to reconsider that agreement.”
Former SPCA director Tricia Johnson told the Board, “I have fought valiantly, I think, to bring that organization up to the highest standards…and it has frankly broken my heart to see where it has come to in these past three years.” Johnson told a story of dog brought to the SPCA that had been hit by a car. The vet who examined the dog told the SPCA to take it for an x-ray, but “instead of doing that, the Fluvanna SPCA allowed that dog to lay on the cold floor, untreated, with nothing but the canine equivalent of Advil for pain,” Johnson said. “When it finally was pulled after two months…it was found to have a crushed pelvis, multiple fractures of both back legs, and fractures in its tail… The public needs to know what is going on.”
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