City Manager Troy Schulte has signed a 16-month contract with a private ambulance billing company to assist city employees with that function.
The move follows local labor’s successful challenge to the Kansas City Council’s decision to completely privatize the city’s emergency medical billing.
The council voted 7-4 on June 19 to authorize the fire chief to enter into a five-year contract with Advanced Data Processing, a subsidiary of Intermedix Corp. Supporters said most cities outsource this function and the 16 city employees in that division would be offered other jobs.
Schulte argued at the time that the private contract would save the city about $700,000 in taxpayer dollars and had the potential to boost medical collections by $2 million a year.
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But opponents said it was unfair to the city employees and cited several cities that had problems with Intermedix’s customer service. They gathered about 8,000 signatures of registered voters, enough to trigger a referendum election to overturn the council’s June vote. Instead, the council last week repealed the privatization decision on its own.
But Schulte said Thursday that he still thought working with Advanced Data Processing would be worthwhile. He said that while the referendum effort stopped him from replacing the employees, he still hopes to realize the increased revenue collections using with the company’s software and medical billing expertise.
Schulte can approve a contract below $300,000 without council authorization. It took effect Monday and runs through Dec. 31, 2015, at a cost not to exceed $17,969 per month.
“We’ve studied this for a year,” he said.
But Councilman John Sharp, a strong opponent of the privatization effort, raised questions Thursday about whether city employees even need this assistance. He also said he thought the city should have gone back out to bid for the contract.
“There are plenty of companies that can provide this service, and that is the only way to assure the taxpayers are getting the best deal possible,” he said.
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