By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Cumberland County will be changing over to a third party medical billing system soon for its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) department after the financial management committee unanimously approved awarding a contract to Ambulance Medical Billing (AMB).
The award of the contract was after the recommendation of the county’s emergency services committee and the review of the contract by county attorney Randal Boston.
“I am OK with the draft of a contract that the county either sign or pass, but I have one question about the payment posting process,” Boston said. “It can be done either one of two ways. Either they pay us, the county, or we pay them a percentage.”
Boston said his only concern, and that he was being overly cautious, was if the county let AMB collect all of the funds and for some reason the company went bankrupt, the county could lose funds or they could be tied up for a long time.
“It doesn’t say how in the draft and that is my only issue,” Boston said.
He referred to Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock for his “level of comfort” on the billing collection.
“From an administrative standpoint it’s going to be much easier to let them collect and back to us. I’ve spoken with Rutherford County, which is a much larger county than ours, and they have used them for years and have said everything is good with them and they are very happy. Initially they collected the funds and sent the percentage to AMB, but then they changed it over to a lock box system which the payments go to AMB then the county. I am comfortable with them and that type of system. If it was a new company I would be hesitant, but I feel comfortable going with them and a lock box system and then the funds coming to the county. All of the records of everything will also be available,” Brock said.
Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson attended the meeting and said he checked with several counties who used AMB and all of them were happy.
The emergency services committee agreed to AMB’s proposal at a rate of 5.1.5 percent of collection fees and 12 tough books (computers) with a guarantee of increasing collection revenues of 15 percent and recommended it to the financial management committee.
The county had considered third-party billing in order to increase its collections for EMS/ambulance service bills that are going unpaid.
The county will have a contract with AMB and ESO Software Solutions, the company that supplies the software for the computers, but all interaction will be between the county and AMB.
“I asked if there was going to be a go to guy in the contract if we had any problems,” Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner said.
“That is right, the county will only be dealing with AMB,” Boson said.
The contract will be a three-year agreement.
It was approved after Lynch made a mortion for approval. It was supported by Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner.
Hyder also told the committee she spoke with several officials in counties that were using AMB and they were all satisfied.
Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. said the company told him it would take roughly 60 days to implement the program, but it could be sooner.
The program includes installation of computers, software and training for EMS personnel.
“I’d like to commend Jeff (Dodson) for his work on this. He put a great deal of time, effort and research into this,” Carey said.
Brock said it was, “Probably the single most challenging event for EMS because it will change the way how the county operates.”
Boston said the contract award does not need full county commission approval.
Four companies submitted proposals last fall and Dodson said AMB was the company he favored.
Other companies submitting proposals included NRG of Macon, GA; EMS Consultants of LaGrange, GA; and Intermedix of Columbus, OH.
AMB is based in Paducah, KY.