ORANGE — After keeping the same fees for ambulance services in the village for more than a decade, Treasurer Dana Kavander and Fire Chief Bob Wilson last week proposed new fees for emergency medical services. They said that the new fees are more in line with local communities and will help ensure that the village receives as much payment as possible from insurance companies.

Mayor Kathy Mulcahy said that for anyone who works or lives in the village, there are no out of pocket costs for ambulance services. Orange Village is reimbursed by the insurance company and does not seek any further payment from individuals because they already are contributing to the general fund through taxes, she explained.

Ambulance services are divided into several categories. Ms. Kavander recommended that basic life support increase from $450 to $550, advanced life support increase from $550 to $650, and advanced life support 2 increase from $700 to $750. She also recommended that the mileage charge increase from $10 per mile to $12 per mile. Average rates for 24 nearby communities are significantly higher than the current rates in Orange, according to the treasurer’s analysis.

“We just haven’t changed since 2008 and it’s time,” Chief Wilson said at the council meeting on Sept. 2. He said that patients can choose which hospital they would like to go to within reason. Most patients go to University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, the chief said.

Ms. Kavander also explained that the revised ordinance would allow the village to accept more payment from the insurance company. For example, if an insurance company is willing to pay $550 for basic life support services but Orange’s ordinance only requests $450, the village is losing $100 from what could have been paid.

“Basically, rates go up so the amounts that the insurance companies pay are going to be more, but they can’t give us more than what we have in our ordinance,” she said.

Ms. Kavander said that the village receives about $150,000 annually from ambulance billing and this proposed increase could result in an additional $25,000 to $30,000 in revenue.

For people who work or live in the village and do not have medical insurance, they would pay nothing toward an ambulance bill. For people who do not live or work in the village and do not have insurance, Ms. Kavander described the process as a “self pay.”

Lifeforce Management takes care of the billing process, Ms. Kavander said. If the person does not pay, further action is handled by the law firm Reimer, Arnovitz, Chernek & Jeffrey Co., LPA for collections. Orange Village is charged a fee of 18 percent of the amount collected, but the village has not received any funds over the last two years.

Village Council was scheduled to discuss switching from the law firm to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for collections at the Sept. 9 meeting. Ms. Kavander said that they have a collections enforcement department and it would not cost Orange Village anything. The attorney general’s office charges its fee to the individual in addition to their ambulance bill, rather than charging Orange Village for their services.

“They have some extra tools in the toolbox to collect on our behalf,” Ms. Kavander said.

The ordinance to increase the EMS fees was on the first of three required readings last week.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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