2011-04-30 / News

EMS billing starting soon

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT - EMS billing for anyone transported to a hospital by the Millersport Fire Department and the Thurston Walnut Township Fire Department is expected to start May 1.

“We’re on track to start May 1,” Trustee Terry Horn reported at Tuesday night’s trustees’ meeting. Millersport Fire Chief Bill Yates said his department is ready. “We’re pretty close,” Thurston Assistant Chief Jamie Carroll added.

Trustees unanimously approved EMS billing in January. Billing for patient transports could generate $197,000 to $210,000 a year based on past transport numbers. Each department will receive the revenue generated by their patient transports less the contractor’s 6.5 percent fee. Initially the funds will probably be used to upgrade equipment like cardiac monitors, but as dayto day operating expenses grow more of the billing revenue may go to operations, postponing an additional property tax levy to fund operations.

Township residents, including those living in the incorporated villages of Millersport, Pleasantville and Thurston, will not receive a bill if they are transported by the Millersport or Walnut Township- Thurston squads. The township will accept whatever their private or public health insurance pays. If they don’t have health insurance, they will still NOT be charged.

EMS patients will NOT have to show medics their insurance card. They or a family member will only have to sign a consent to bill their insurance company. The hospital will provide individual insurance information directly to township’s contractor MED3000.

Patients are likely to get an Explanation of Benefits from their insurance company, but it won’t be a bill. Patients who are not local taxpayers will be billed for co-pays. In this case, that would be any who doesn’t live in Walnut Township. For example, a Buckeye Lake Village resident injured in a crash in Walnut Township and transported to a hospital would be billed for any insurance co-pays or the entire bill if they don’t have health insurance. They would have to billed at 30, 60 and 90 days to meet the minimum billing effort standard required by Medicare. There is NO requirement to send unpaid bills after 90 days to a collection agency. Likewise, a Buckeye Lake Village resident or anyone not living within Walnut Township would also be billed if they were transported under mutual aid by Millersport or Thurston - Walnut Township.

Yates presented a detailed report to trustees listing each of the department’s 292 year-to-date runs - 242 EMS and 50 fire. Those runs included 56 runs providing mutual aid led by 20 runs to help Thornville, 17 for Buckeye Lake and 7 each for Hebron and Thurston- Walnut Township. Neighboring departments gave assistance to Millersport 15 times, led by five times from Thurston-Walnut Township. Millersport typically makes about 1,000 runs a year and is on pace to do that again this year.

In other business Tuesday night, Trustee Sonny Dupler and Horn clashed over Phase 2 of the Cherry Lane Rehabilitation Project. Trustees held a special meeting at the site on April 15 to discuss whether an agricultural drain tile in the right-of-way should be replaced. Replacement was in the original specifications but then removed when the cost came in at more than $40,000. Fairfield County’s Chief Deputy Engineer Jeff Baird P.E. continued to push for replacement. The cost was cut to $22,000 during the special meeting when landowner Dave Keller agreed to do part of the work. Horn and Trustee Ralph Zollinger then approved a resolution, with Dupler objecting, to increase the project cost by $21,994.74.

Tuesday night Dupler called the motion for that resolution “illegal.” He said last October all three trustees approved a project contract that didn’t include replacement so Horn’s motion to now include replacement is “illegal.”

Dupler’s contention stunned Horn. “Where are you coming from, sir?” he asked. “You are making up stuff. You can change a contract by resolution.” Dupler then moved to rescind the resolution approving replacing the tile. He said the township would have to borrow the extra $22,000 so it would really cost about $24,000 when interest is included. Dupler also claimed the tile system is working.

After Zolllinger called twice for a second, he seconded it himself. “You guys are making a huge mistake,” Horn said. “We meet with all the people involved to make an informed decision.” Horn pointed out there have been three breaks in the line this year.

“We’re getting a good deal,” he added. The agreement with Dave Keller cut the cost in half. “ If we can’t spend five percent (more) to make it right, we shouldn’t even be doing the project,” he said.

Horn also attacked Dupler’s motion on procedural grounds. He said Dupler with Zollinger’s support established an 8 a.m. Monday deadline before their twice-monthly Tuesday evening meetings to place items on the agenda. The handwritten agenda notice sent to him included simply “Cherry Lane.” The agenda available at the meeting included “Replacement of Drain Tiles on Cherry Lane.” Fiscal Officer Lynn Kraner said she added the additional language based on supposition from previous discussion about Cherry Lane. Her language was not sent to Horn.

“I say it isn’t even on the agenda,” Horn contended. “I had no understanding that this was going to be discussed.” That didn’t stop the vote which was 2-1 to rescind the April 15 resolution.

“You guys are out of line,” Horn said. He asked Zollinger if he had discussed the issue with Dupler. Zollinger said he hadn’t and changed his mind because he believes don’t fix it if it is not broken.

“I’m disappointed,” Keller told Dupler and Zollinger. After talking for several hours with engineers, they have now “done the backflip.” He also said, “It (the tile system) is failing.”

“You guys took this action illegally because it was not on the agenda given to the fiscal officer,” Horn said. “That’s your rule and you aren’t even following it.”

Horn had placed the issue of what constitutes a special meeting on the agenda. That subject came up two weeks ago when Dupler maintained that Horn and Zollinger’s attendance and participation at the Village of Thurston’s Safety Committee meeting on April 6 wasn’t a special meeting. Horn read provisions from the Ohio Attorney General’s Sunshine Laws Manual describing what constitutes a special meeting and how it must be publicized. “We can’t just put a sign on the door to have a special meeting,” Horn said.

Dupler said he and Zollinger had attended Thurston meetings before without it being a special meeting since they didn’t make any decisions there. Horn said they don’t understand the requirements. “We were clear before you were ever around,” Dupler responded.

Trustees’ next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, at the township office.

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