City of Vicksburg hires firm to recover unpaid ambulance bills

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, August 12, 2021

Faced with a total of $1.8 million in unpaid bills for ambulance services, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen has hired a Tupelo company to collect the past due bills.

The board on Tuesday hired Franklin Collection Services Inc. to either reduce or eliminate the past due amounts that have accrued since 2013.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the board has a contract with Health Care Consultants Inc. to handle billing services for the city’s ambulance service, which is operated by the Vicksburg Fire Department. The company, however, does not have a mechanism to collect past-due bills.

“There’s two ways you can bill for ambulance runs: one is your fee includes supplies and one where your fee does include supplies; you charge separately for any supplies used,” Health Care Consultants president Bill Fulcher said. “At the time they applied for their provider numbers, the city had to determine how they were going to that and they chose to have the supplies included in the bill for fees so you get a higher reimbursement.”

Fulcher said the company averages about 150 bills a month, adding a patient’s insurance company is billed for the service. If the patient does not have insurance, the patient is billed.

The cost of a non-emergency ambulance run is $325, and an emergency run is $625, he said.

The city of Vicksburg established the ambulance service with the fire department in 1969 after a local company offering ambulance service went out of business. Besides handling emergency calls in the city, the ambulance service provides emergency medical service to Warren County residents under an agreement between the city and the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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