Enough petitions are gathered to challenge the outsourcing of KC ambulance billing

08/26/2014 9:21 AM

08/26/2014 5:01 PM

A group opposed to the Kansas City Council’s decision to outsource ambulance billing has gathered enough petition signatures to force a referendum.

City Clerk Marilyn Sanders confirmed this week that the committee of petitioners had gathered 8,078 valid signatures to try to overturn the council’s decision. They needed 7,144 signatures of registered voters.

The City Council voted 7-4 on June 19 to privatize Kansas City’s medical billing for ambulance calls, a function currently handled by Fire Department employees. The council authorized the fire chief to enter into a five-year contract with Advanced Data Processing Inc., a subsidiary of Intermedix Corp.

Supporters said the move would save the city at least $800,000 and had the potential to boost medical collections by $2 million a year. They said the city employees would be offered other jobs with no loss in pay and pointed out that very few cities handle the function themselves.

But opponents cited several cities that had serious problems with Intermedix’s customer service and failure to meet collections. They also objected to privatizing good-paying municipal jobs.

Councilman John Sharp, a vocal opponent of Intermedix, said the council must now decide whether to repeal the privatization move on its own or it must put the measure to a public vote. The deadline for November ballot measures has passed, so the next possible election would be in April.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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