Lee’s Summit is getting ready to change the way it’s collecting fees owed for emergency medical services.
The city bills about $2.2 million for emergency medical services, ambulance transfers and associated fees each year but gets stiffed on about 25 percent of that amount.
The city’s Finance and Budget Committee recently recommended that Lee’s Summit join a cooperative contract that ABCAmbulance/Digitech has with Johnson County in Kansas.
By using the service, the city should “substantially reduce our bad debt,” Finance Director Conrad Lamb said
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The service will take a fee of 5.7 percent of the money it collects, after it takes over the city’s billing for EMS, Lamb said. He said he thinks the city will have a net gain.
Lamb said the company has a database that would help locate a larger number of insurance carriers and a better understanding of insurance requirements, which should increase successful claims. The city’s law department also will spend less time on delinquent accounts, he said.
The full council would have to approve the contract.
The switch won’t affect the operations of the Lee’s Summit Fire Department’s EMS services, except that a fire department employee who handles medical coding would transfer to City Hall and join the finance department, said John Spencer, assistant fire chief for training.
Spencer said that employee would continue to work on medical billing during the transition to Digitech.
The company has resources such as administrative support to help it keep current with Medicaid and Medicare regulations, as well as its own collection department. The city now hires a collection agency working with the legal department for unpaid bills, Spencer said.
In June, the Kansas City Council voted to outsource ambulance billing to a different company, but a group is trying to overturn the decision. Opponents have questioned that company’s track record, and some worry that the switch could open the door to more privatization that harms the city work force.