By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
County commissioners on the Emergency Services Committee last week decided to have a third-party medical billing company come to the county and give a presentation in order to help commissioners decide if they would like to use a third-party billing service.
"This is a huge decision and could have a big effect on our revenues and I'd like to get your (the county's) input," said Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson. "Maybe we could have a work session."
The committee last fall discussed third-party billing and the county sent out a Request For Proposals (RFP) for third-party billing companies.
The county was considering third-party billing in order to increase its collections for EMS/ambulance service bills that are going unpaid.
Four companies submitted proposals last fall and Dodson said there was one company he was leaning toward.
Dodson said, of the four companies he looked at, he recommended AMB (Ambulance Medical Billing) out of Kentucky.
"They come highly recommended from Rutherford County, Smith County and Canon County. They all use them and give a strong recommendation," Dodson said.
"I'd recommend AMB. They give a guaranteed revenue increase of 10 to 15 percent," Roy Turner, 7th District commissioner and Cumberland County Paramedic, said.
Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, asked if the hiring of third-party medical billing would mean getting rid of any of the Cumberland County staff.
"I highly doubt it. We are understaffed in our billing department, anyway. There is a lot more they do than just billing, besides. I'm unsure, though. We may need to cut some hours or some to part time," Dodson said. "But, there's always going to be some people that are going to want to come in and pay on their bill at the office, so we won't ever be totally out of billing. We're always going to need someone to take payments at the office."
Several commissioners expressed concern the company wasn't just some company making empty promises and taking funds it collected.
"Some of these other counties have been dealing with them for several years and I don't think they would recommend them if they were having problems like that," Dodson said.
"Maybe we can have them come for a full county commission work session?" Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner asked.
"I'd like to make a motion that we go with the recommendation of Chief Dodson with AMB Billing and have them come here and go over the details with us and get us all a copy of their proposal for us to consider," said Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner and Cumberland County fireman.
Turner supported the motion and it was unanimously approved.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner and Emergency Services Committee chairperson, suggested having another committee meeting and inviting all the other commissioners to attend.
The committee agreed on consensus to do such.
The meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 2 at 4:30 p.m. in the small courtroom at the Cumberland County Courthouse.