MONTGOMERY COUNTY – The Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting on June 12 included a public hearing on an amendment to the county code for cost reimbursement for EMS transport services.
The board later voted to approve the establishment of fees for EMS services with all seven members in agreement of the ordinance.
The county code will authorize “the County to charge reasonable fees for the use of emergency medical service vehicles, including charging insurers for ambulance services” according to information posted on the www.montva.com website.
Additionally, the resolution states “A fee of 170% of the Medicare allowable shall be charged for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support level 1 (ALS1), Advanced Life Support Level 2 (ALS2), and per mile for ground transport mileage.”
Resident Wayman Pack, of Riner, addressed the supervisors with many questions that he presented as still unanswered in the proposed amendment. Some of several questions he shared that require clarity are concerning the County’s definition of reasonable, how the rates will be calculated, how often the rates will be adjusted, and if one department will receive more funds because of the age of the vehicles.
“This ordinance shall become effective July 1st, 2023,” said Pack. “Is this revision the consequence of the board recently approving the lowest tax rate advertised and looking for new revenue streams or is this something that’s been on the table for a longer period of time? I have to say the timing is suspicious.”
Craig Meadows, County Administrator, responded early in the meeting that the item would be placed in the agenda’s new business, and they would address those questions at that time.
Bradley St. Clair, Assistant County Administrator, then addressed the board during the new business discussion of the meeting. Supervisor Todd King inquired about the billing process with insurance companies.
“When that bill is sent to the insurance company, it is going to look at that and determine, you know, was it a necessity? Did you have a paramedic respond to something and did it warrant this bill,” St. Clair said. “Kind of what’s been deemed is the standard practice, most everyone is billing at a percentage of the Medicare rate.”
Furthermore, the board agreed that the amendment to the code states that if any insurance company determines that the ambulance ride was not necessary after two attempts at payment, and a waiver of fees was also attempted with the insurance company, then the county citizen would not owe any payment for the emergency service transport.
“We will not be seeking those charges from citizens,” St. Clair said.
Citizen questions were responded to as well during the meeting. One of which is how the insurance information would be shared with the EMS services. Rescue Chief David English approached the board to answer these concerns.
“We didn’t want to show up and ask for your insurance card. I think that’s in poor taste and that’s not what the patient needs at that time and so our goal would be that we provide the care. We get you to the hospital,” English said. “Our goal would be to get that information through the hospital and through the electronic report system.”
During the meeting, Virginia Department of Transportation Residency Administrator David Clarke, also provided an update to the board on road projects in Montgomery County. Prior to mentioning ongoing maintenance projects, Clarke spoke to some safety projects that have been in the works.
“We used some of the safety money and built a small, but I think going to be very effective, right-turn lane on 460 westbound at Craig Creek Road,” Clarke said.
Additional safety projects Clarke commented on were on 460 business near Jennelle Road, as the result of a pipe failure causing the necessity of a large excavation, and Catawba Road, near Mossy Springs, to deal with a steep slope area.
Many other areas of the county were discussed that involved smoothing graveled roads, deepening ditches along roadsides, and preventive measures along roads prone to flooding.
A traffic concern brought to the attention of the board by a citizen was also discussed by the supervisors and VDOT representative Clarke. Tractor trailers traveling through Glade Road have difficulty making a left turn on to Tower Road but are unaware until they are already in the location. Clarke and Chair Sherri Blevins discussed the possibility of signage to alert drivers of the difficult turn.
“We could do a formal no-through trucks sign that would require a public hearing and several things, which it can be done” Clarke said. “There’s a process, a legal process to prohibit a certain type of vehicle.”
Blevins suggested a temporary caution sign that it is not recommended for drivers to attempt the turn may help while other options are considered.
The next Montgomery Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 26.