New EMS Billing System Adds Revenues
Insurance payments are now contributing to Moore County's new fee for service billing system for Emergency Medical Services.
Public Safety Director D. Scot Brooks gave his first update to the Moore County Board of Commissioners last Monday night since the system was implemented in August.
Brooks reported that $271,870 had been collected from the fee for billing system as of Oct. 2. He said the current funds available, updated earlier Monday, total $734,926.
Under the new system, Moore County residents are billed only for insurance and are not responsible for co-pay or deductible amounts. If there is no insurance, there is no billing because EMS is provided through a countywide tax, presently assessed at four cents on the $100 property valuation.
Normal billing procedures apply to non-residents, Brooks said.
Projections indicate that the county can build up a $1.5 million fund a year under the new system, and this money can be used to enhance the system.
Revenues from the special tax are used to maintain the EMS systems across the county, to pay paramedics and emergency medical technicians, to buy and maintain ambulances and other equipment.
The billing system is expected to pay for enhancements to the system and perhaps eventually to reduce the tax rate.
Brooks said he plans to bring future needs to the commissioners at November board meetings. Those needs include new ambulances, equipment for special emergencies and nine new positions, if funds are available.
No funds are drawn from the county's General Fund to support the EMS program.
In a review of the background of the billing plan, Brooks told the board that the EMS system was studied by a team from Western Carolina University in 2002. Steve Allen of Solutions for Local Governments later proposed changes that would improve efficiency.
Improvements already in place include the more rapid filling of staff vacancies, an upgraded pay scale, and equipment upgrades. Other improvements include greater attention to prime time response and upgrades in training.
In other business, at the Monday meeting, the commissioners approved performance-based contracts with five fire departments and with all 10 rescue/EMS/first responder services districts.
Fire Marshal Carlton Cole reported that Circle V, Crestline, Eagle Springs, Eastwood and Seven Lakes fire departments have submitted contract proposals, and he recommended approval. Cole said that the remaining rural departments would submit their contracts later.
Performance-based contracts were recommended in the Comprehensive Study of Emergency Services completed in 2004. The process was designed to replace dated contracts and to standardize requirements of each department.
Similar contracts were approved for the 10 rescue districts: Robbins Rescue, Aberdeen Rescue, Seven Lakes EMS, High Falls Fire and Rescue, Vass Rescue, Whispering Pines Rescue, Southern Pines Fire and Rescue, Carthage Rescue, West End Fire and Rescue and Pinehurst Rescue.
This plan was likewise developed out of the 2004 study.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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