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Council hears EMS request for budget shortfall

Council hears EMS request for budget shortfall Council hears EMS request for budget shortfall
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

Chuck Wiley, chief financial officer for Harrison County Hospital, approached the county council at its meeting Aug. 23 to request $328,207 to cover shortfalls for Harrison County Emergency Medical Services.

He noted they have been able to stay decently on track with the budget, with not one specific area sticking out as a reasoning for this shortfall, and that EMS has been pretty consistent overall with revenue tracking upward.

He also explained to the council that based on what provider a person uses for coverage and billing can affect how much the EMS and hospital is alloted in payment. For instance, providers like Anthem have contractual discounts for EMS. Medicare has set fees they add, according to Wiley, and Medicaid is a flat fee that hasn’t changed in years. He explained they send out the bill and then adjust for allowances set up for them based on providers.

“One of our problems is that about 77% of our calls are Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, which is government funded, so we only get a certain amount of that,” Joe Squier, Harrison County EMS director, said. “Medicaid is working off a 40-year-old model and has not raised their reimbursement rates since the 1970s. There is a push within the state to pressure the legislature to increase reimbursements. Indiana EMS has been pushing for this, but it’s coming down to lobbying legislators, which takes time.”

Squier also explained to the council that EMS will be requesting new AED units within the coming year as the current models are expiring soon and are no longer in production. He hopes to find a similar make as the AEDs fire departments use so they will be interchangeable.

Another item he wanted to make the council aware of in his five-to 10-year plan is the possibility of constructing new EMS buildings in the county. He noted that the current ones are nearing 20 years old and, after conferring with a construction company a couple of years ago, he was advised to simply “tear down and start from scratch.”

Councilman Kyle Nix requested that Squier compile a list of issues with the buildings so that they would be better prepared in the future if this were to cause more problems and not to be blindsided by a request.

The council approved a $5,300 request from Harrison County Animal Control at the meeting as well, with $500 toward overtime, $1,000 to other supplies, $2,500 to the fuel line, $1,000 for animal feed and $300 for travel per diem and meals.

Councilmembers also unanimously approved $182,000 from Harrison County Highway Dept. for design work on the rehabilitation project for Bridge No. 25 on Corydon-New Middletown Road, which 80% of funds will be reimbursed later on. The council unanimously approved to appropriate $1 million in state grant funds and $600,000 in local match for the 2021 Community Crossings grant for the highway department. The match funds came from the highway department’s own funds.

A $5,000 additional request for the concessional line, $600 for the longevity line and about $3,000 for worker’s compensation were all approved unanimously for the Harrison County Parks Dept.

Council president Donnie Hussung noted that the additional for concessions is a profitable investment as the original $10,000 the council appropriated at the beginning of the year has profited about $29,000.

The county council is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. at the government building in Corydon.