Fire Chief releases updated ambulance service figures

As of the end of May 2018, the City of Amsterdam has received $284,849 in revenue since the fire department began operating an ambulance service in August 2017, according Fire Chief Michael Whitty, who cited updated figures from MultiMed, the city’s medical billing company. The amount is a $89,764 increase from the total reported at the end of April and reflects the addition of Medicaid claims, which had not been able to be billed for until recently. Whitty reported the new figures this evening at a Public Safety Committee meeting with Alderman Chad Majewski and Alderman Paul Ochal.

MultiMed’s report shows a total of $151,190 in claims have yet to be collected. Whitty quoted MultiMed as saying they believe a “substantial” portion of that amount will be collected, but did not give any exact figure. The budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year which ends June 30, projected $350,000 in revenue from the service. Whitty said he felt confident the revenue will meet that projection.

Whitty said the service has generated 920 claims between August 17, 2017 and June 7, 2018. Disregarding August 2017, which was not a complete month of billing, Whitty said an average of 133 claims were filed per month and the average amount paid on each claim was $277. Using those figures, Whitty said he estimates the next fiscal year, with a full 12 months of operation, could generate $442,452 in revenue.

Majewski thanked Whitty and the fire department for taking on the extra responsibility of the ambulance service.

“We appreciate them for taking on this added responsibility to help us bring in some extra revenue,” said Majewski to Whitty. “Hopefully these stats that we’ve provided today will encourage the next [Public Safety Committee Chair], and you and the mayor to get together and possibly look at bringing in that second ambulance in the next year or so. It’s something I would certainly encourage you to do. And hopefully the council can get that together and make that work.”

Currently, the city operates one ambulance which does not require any additional staffing. When the fire department cannot respond to an emergency call, the city’s former ambulance provider, GAVAC is called in. Back in 2015, when Whitty first proposed the ambulance service, he estimated that running two ambulances would require the fire department staff to work extra hours. At the time, Whitty said he had an informal agreement with the firefighter union that firefighters would work the extra hours at regular pay. He estimated the extra hours would cost approximately $85,000 per year, but also estimated $589,866 in total annual revenue. The common council at the time opted not to authorize the service. In 2017, the new council authorized the lease of only one ambulance and factored $350,000 in estimated annual revenues into the 2017-2018 budget.

Whitty said today he would need to have a discussion with the mayor and the fire department union president to discuss options as to how a second ambulance would be implemented, and said it would be “premature” to discuss exact details at this time. However, he added, “It’s definitely worth looking into, absolutely.”

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.