• December 25, 2014

Unpaid ambulance bills pile up

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Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 4:30 am

GATESVILLE — The Copperas Cove Fire Department lost more than $96,000 from unpaid emergency medical services calls in Coryell County in 2012, Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young told county commissioners Monday.

Young spoke during a budget workshop at a special session of the commissioners’ court.

Of the 150 EMS calls that resulted in patients being transported to a hospital, Young said, the department charged $144,345 but only received $55,716 for a deficit of $88,629.

Of the 44 calls that did not result in hospital transport, the department billed $8,530 but collected only $949 for a deficit of $7,581, he said.

Cove EMS responded to 67 calls in the county last year that were not charged, Young said.

Cove EMS provides ambulance services primarily in southern Coryell County, Young said, but will answer calls anywhere in the county when needed.

“Some (patients) just will not pay,” Young said. “We cannot not respond to a call” due to delinquent payment.

The department uses a billing agency that is “very aggressive” in pursuing payment from patients and insurance companies, he said. “They only get paid if we get paid.”

Commissioner Jack Wall said he had spoken to officials of Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville and they are satisfied to continue the ambulance provided by Cove EMS.

Also during the budget workshop, Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers made a pitch for $44,000 to purchase an additional 20 used E-slate voting machines as the county prepares to launch the new countywide voting system in November.

Under the countywide plan, voters could cast votes in any of 11 polling places on election day, but would have to use one of the E-slate voting machines, not a paper ballot. Twenty more voting machines would bring the county total to about 90, Carothers said.

County Judge John Firth suggested that Carothers “prepare an invoice on the voting machines, and we can kick that around next week.”

Commissioners want to have a proposed budget completed by July 31.

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