Ambulance service to be cheaper for county in ‘15

Published 11:35 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Warren County supervisors received a surprising letter from the City of Vicksburg this week.

The cost of city-run ambulance service is going down, for a change.

Increases in ambulance bills to those who request them and better collections has reduced the cost of each run outside city limits to $146, according to a letter Aug. 5 from North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield to Warren County Board President Bill Lauderdale. The amount is less than half the $300 per run the county had paid since an agreement between the two governing bodies was last renegotiated in 2006.

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Mayfield had chaired a committee named late last year that reviewed 12 “interlocal” agreements in which either government pays a fee for service. He noted the fee takes affect upon the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1.

“The city went up on its ambulance fees and has improved collections,” read part of the letter. “We will revisit this fee next year and may look into changing the interlocal agreement for the fiscal year beginning October 2015.”

In January, Mayfield favored reviews of the ambulance agreement every two years. The current deal has no specific term.

The county board this week took the news in stride, with most supervisors deciding to wait on the city to figure out the future of the pricing structure.

A cost breakdown included with Mayfield’s letter showed the $146 rate resulted from Warren County’s share of a $1.2 million deficit the service ran in fiscal 2013. The city reported 2,064 runs outside the city limits last fiscal year, up slightly from 1,909 recorded during calendar 2012 but less than the 1,600 runs in the year before the current agreement was reached. Runs to the county made up about 25 percent of the deficit, according to the breakdown.

Vicksburg and Warren County are among a minority of communities in the U.S. that runs their own ambulance response, in place here since 1967 when the function was assumed from local funeral homes.

EMTs respond to wreck calls, medical emergencies, fires where people might be injured, assistance at local convalescent homes and more. The flat rate in the current pact was reached after city and county board haggled for years over reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers involved in the billing process. Previously, the payment was tied to types of service was rendered from one emergency call to the next.