21 July 2015
The decision by the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors to charge a fee for ambulance usage has stirred enough quitting talk among volunteers that Lake Monticello Volunteer Rescue Squad (LMVRS) Captain Joe Orsolini has called a special meeting of the organization, asking that anyone “contemplating making a serious decision about this action by the Board of Supervisors to please hold off until after the meeting.”
Though Orsolini wouldn’t comment on personnel issues, former LMVRS member Lyle Plitt submitted his resignation two weeks ago and said he knew of three other members planning to do the same.
Some rescue volunteers are opposed to cost recovery, or the practice of imposing fees for ambulance transport, because they don’t believe in charging money for a service they pride themselves on providing for free.
Plitt believes that charging a several hundred dollar fee for ambulance use will keep patients from calling 911 or, if they do call, from accepting transport to the hospital. He also takes issue with the fact that he and his fellow volunteers have been asked to collect insurance information from patients. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate for us to ask sick or injured patients for their insurance information,” he said. “My job is to take care of patients.”
Cheryl Elliott, emergency services coordinator, said that providers would “absolutely not” be expected to gather insurance information from someone gasping for breath, for example. “Right now they already ask for some demographic information,” she said. “The only two different things they’ll ask about is the name of the insurance provider and the policy number. If the insurance information isn’t easily available it can be gotten from the hospital – it just makes the process easier if they can get it from the patient. But never will gathering any information impinge on providing any service.”
Supervisors implemented the cost recovery program, which after a year or two may bring in between $754,787 to $791,723 annually, to help alleviate the $2.4 million yearly price tag for rescue and fire services in the county. When considering what sort of billing model to adopt, supervisors rejected an insurance-only model that would charge insurance companies and forgive any remaining balance, opting instead for a “compassionate billing” program that would bill patients for the balance after insurance pays but would refrain from sending unpaid bills to collections.Add a comment