• Charlene Sims, Journal staff

County ambulance service experiences financial challenges

Updated: 6 days ago

MOUND CITY - American Medical Response (AMR) Operations Manager Galen Anderson told the Linn County commissioners on Mon. Oct 24 that there have been several financial challenges to the ambulance operation during 2022.


He said he thought it was important to go over them for the commission to understand in terms of how AMR is doing and some of the financial challenges that AMR has been having this year.


Anderson said that one of the challenges had been filling open positions for paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) the past year. He explained that while other staff stepped up to fill those vacancies, it added overtime pay to the payroll.


He also explained the unique financial position that AMR and other medical services work with: Filing for insurance claims that were paid three months or more after being filed. It takes a little bit longer than a typical business model to understand what the first-quarter earnings were.


At this time in the year, he said, AMR is planning for next year’s budget keeping in mind how the company has been performing throughout the year to this point.


He said in the big picture for 2020, compared to 2021 and 2022, the expenses have just been growing steadily. And because of inflation, expenses continue to rise for fuel costs, wages, and medical supplies.

Anderson said that reimbursement from insurance companies seems to be trending a little lower also. He said that some of this was because of people’s reluctance to be transported because of the costs, and he said that he could understand this because everyone was facing their own economic challenges.


Another factor is that AMR expects transport volume to increase each year, and that is relatively consistent. However, because of the reluctance to be transported the company has seen a decline in transport volume, Anderson explained.


Anderson said that the years 2020 and 2021 were good years to cover AMR’s costs. This year has been much more of a challenging picture. He said a lot of ambulance services across the country are seeing that. It’s a challenging business to grow revenue in because there is a fixed population and a fixed set of transports.


He said AMR is solve the problem on its own. He said he was not asking for an increased subsidy. That would be the easy button to push, but having a longstanding partnership with the county, AMR wanted to do everything that they possibly can to avoid increasing cost to the county. That is the company’s goal and its path forward.


One of the things AMR will be doing is to do an annual rate increase that is based on the consumer price index. Another change where the company will start to see some improvement happened back in Julywhen Kansas Medicaid did a pretty significant increase in reimbursement for services. But Medicaid is only about5 percent to 10 percent of the business.

Also, AMR has a regional recruiting office that is working on getting more candidates to fill positions so that they will not be paying as much overtime.


According to Anderson, another thing AMR is exploring for additional income is partnering with a program called Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) through Medicare.


While now AMR either transports or doesn’t transport a patient, this model would reimburse AMR at a lower rate for setting up alternative options for patients like facilitating a telemedicine talk with the patient’s doctor or helping them get a prescription refilled that they need. At present, if a patient is not transported there is no revenue for AMR.


Anderson then gave the ambulance report for the last seven days: 16 transports, making a total of 47 so far for the month of October. He pointed out that this has slowed down compared to September’s transports.


Anderson reported the total calls for September were 133 with 79 transports and an overall average response time of 13 minutes, 51 seconds. Six patients were transferred out by helicopter, one respiratory arrest, one heart attack, and four with stroke symptoms.

By city, the numbers are:

• Blue Mound, 2 calls, 1 transport

• Centerville, 10 calls, 2 transports

• Fontana address, 1 call, 1 transport

• La Cygne, 38 calls, 19 transports

• Linn Valley, 13 calls, 6 transports

• Mound City, 21 calls, 12 transports

• Parker, 9 calls, 6 transports

• Pleasanton, 35 calls, 29 transports

• Prescott, 3 calls, 3 transports

• One call that did not fall into a particular city, but it was not a transport


The breakdown for commission districts are:

• District 1, 59 calls, 29 transports, average response time 12 minutes 6

seconds

• District 2, 51 calls, 31 transports, 12 minutes, 37 seconds

• District 3, 28 calls, 18 transports, 19 minutes, 28 seconds

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