The Amsterdam Fire Department can now bill for ambulance calls covered by Medicare, and has already gone back and submitted bills that have been pending since the city-run service began in August, according to Chief Michael Whitty who updated common council members during a public safety committee meeting on Monday night.
The department had been waiting to receive its Medicare provider number, which was finally secured early in December. At the beginning of the year, city officials used an estimate provided by Multimed Billing Service which projected that Medicare-covered calls would constitute approximately 53% of total calls. Now that the Medicare number has been secured, Whitty said the city has applied for it’s Medicaid number, which could take another 90-120 days to receive. Medicaid calls were estimated to make up 31% of total calls. Other sources include commercial insurance and self-payers. According to Whitty, there is no limit as to how far back calls can be billed to Medicare, however Medicaid will not reimburse for calls past 90 days.
According to a report that Whitty gave to council members, the service has brought in $23,891 in actual payments so far. However since Medicare calls were only recently billed, that number does not accurately reflect the full amount of revenue due from calls to date. The report shows a total of $167,244 in “net charges” for 408 claims from August through November, of which Whitty projects approximately 86% (just under $143,829) will be collected, based on a statistical average quoted by Multimed.
Public Safety Committee Chair Chad Majewski said given the preliminary numbers, he feels confident that the city will meet the $350,000 amount projected in the city’s 2017-2018 budget.
“So looking at these numbers, we appear to be pretty much on-track,” said Majewski. “We’ll definitely hit that budget number, there’s no doubt about it.”
Alderman Jim Martuscello asked how many ambulance calls had not been answered by the city, but had been covered by GAVAC, the city’s former, long-time ambulance service provider. Whitty said that from September through November, GAVAC handled 40 transports for the city.
Martuscello said it was important to track the missed calls in order to see if adding a second ambulance to the service would be justified.
Mayor Michael Villa said, “I think you need to track it for a year and we’ll see how many calls we’re missing and does it substantiate the dollar value or not.”
Majewski said he agreed with Villa but added he believes the city could see additional revenue from a second ambulance as it could also be used for non-emergency transportation of patients between hospitals and other medical facilities.