When the 911 system is activated in this area for a medical emergency, the Payson, Pine-Strawberry, Diamond Star, Christopher-Kohl's or another fire department is the first responder. They respond to medical emergencies and call an ambulance to transport the patient to the hospital if necessary.
With orders from physicians at the Payson Regional Medical Center, emergency treatment and medications are administered by the fire department paramedics to stabilize the patient. Private ambulance companies, or in some cases fire department ambulances, provide transportation to the hospital, and in most cases the fire department paramedic accompanies the patient and provides care during the ride to the hospital.
Until recently, the supplies and medications used by fire department paramedics were replaced by the hospital receiving the patient. The supplies were replaced free to the fire departments or volunteer rescue agency and were bundled in the patient's emergency department/hospital bill. Oftentimes these charges were never recognized by the patient as pre-hospital supplies.
Due to a recent interpretation of a federal regulation governing ambulance supplies, however, PRMC was compelled to discontinue this practice, leaving the fire departments to find an alternative source to replace these medications and supplies.
The fire departments in this area have contracted with our company to provide such supplies. Our company, Emergency Medical Specialists Inc., provides advanced life support medications and supplies that require a physician's prescription for the paramedic to administer.
We use a state-of-the-art electronic drug supply locker for fire department personnel. These electronic/ATM storage centers are kept in the hospital for the paramedics to replace the items that were used on patients from the last call. We gather information from the fire department, our electronic locker, and the hospital to provide a bill for the patient.
We currently bill the patient's insurance company, but after 30 days we must then bill the patient for payment. When the insurance company pays us, we then will reimburse the patient for the amount received.
These are medical supplies consumed by the patient and are reimbursable by practically all insurance companies. We have an ongoing dialogue with Medicare. However, at this time, these supplies, like other prescriptions, are still not a covered expense. We will work with individuals and arrange a payment plan that will best suit their needs. However, we still need to pay our suppliers, and if we do not hear from individuals after a total of l45 days, we may use a more aggressive method.
As with any new type of business, often there are mistakes made. We are no different. We made a terrible mistake when we hired a billing company to service the Rim country area fire departments. We did not know that the billing company refused to bill insurance and sent some of our clients to collections, having given them only 15 days to pay and in some cases before they even received a bill.
We feel terrible that this happened to some of the people we attempted to serve and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
We have replaced that billing company with a very professional medical billing service. We are continuing to work in the best interest of the people and the EMS providers within your area to provide state-of-the-art material to your paramedics to make your emergency as short as possible.
If the citizens of Payson and the surrounding communities have questions about this service, please call me directly at (602) 870-9388, ext. 11. Thank you.
Steve Topliff, President
Emergency Medical Specialists Inc.