County officials are discussing steps to resolve bad debt that’s plaguing the ambulance service. About 7 percent of all charges billed by EMS result in bad debt, according to EMS director Brian Jennings.
In the previous period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, EMS amassed $139,938 in bad debt. The total for the past three years is $477,117.
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, EMS had $1.8 million in collected revenue, making the bad debts 7 percent of the total billed.
Jennings presented these figures to the county’s Safety Committee, which has the option to pursue collections through the county attorney or with an outside collection agency.
“As the billing process goes now, this committee was elected as the committee that would excuse bad debts,” said Jennings. “These debts run through a period of three years through our system. At the end of three years, this committee would be the one to vote to excuse any individual’s debt.”
Bad debts with EMS are kept active for a year. After three years, if the account is no longer active, the account can go into collections. An account is considered active if the debtor has payment arrangements with the county.
Problem accounts include persons who abuse the service, non-residents of the state or county, and individuals who are not insured. For those who are deceased and have no estate, there’s no way for the county to collect the debt.
The matter has been discussed by the Safety Committee on several occasions. At this meeting, the committee voted unanimously to table the issue until the county attorney can be consulted to make a recommendation. Further discussion will take place at the next committee meeting.
The next item of business was to vote on awarding bids for two new and/ or remount ambulances for EMS. The budget for these vehicles is $280,000.
Two bids were received for both new and remount ambulances.
Custom Truck & Body Works Inc., of Woodbury, Ga., was chosen to provide the ambulances, having provided both the cheapest and fastest quotes. Estimated delivery is four to six months.
One vehicle will be a completely new 2015 Osage Super Warrior, which is built on a Dodge Ram 4500 chassis. The new ambulance will cost $142,465.
The second vehicle will be a remount of an Excellance box already owned by EMS onto a new 2015 Freightliner truck. The cost for this will be $126,845.
The new ambulance will replace an out-of-service vehicle. As EMS maintains a fleet of eight trucks, the addition of the remount will bring the total to nine, meaning the oldest existing ambulance will be replaced.
Safety Committee chairman Teddy Boyd and Commissioners Carl D. Bouldin, Randy England, Ron Lee, and Charles Morgan voted 5-0 to recommend the purchase to the Financial Management Committee.