Commissioners seek legal advice about ambulance program

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:46 pm on Friday, October 14, 2011

STANTON — Health Care Plus is losing money, but Montcalm County commissioners are seeking legal advice before making any changes.
Members of the Health & Human Services Committee voted Tuesday to consult with an attorney before deciding whether to change the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program.
EMS Director David Feldpausch previously told commissioners he is predicting Health Care Plus will lose $5,000 or more this year due to a combination of more claims and greater claim amounts. The plan has been losing money since 2008.
EMS began offering Health Care Plus in 1997. The goal was to give people on a fixed income or Medicare a co-pay option for ambulance transportation costs.
The standard Medicare co-pay is 20 percent. Health Care Plus covers all out-of-pocket expenses for “medically necessary” transportation provided by EMS for subscribers, their spouses and dependent children living in the same household.
Anyone is eligible to subscribe to the program, but EMS has focused its marketing efforts on low-income residents.
Health Care Plus currently has 327 participants. Last fiscal year, 83 claims were made, eight of which were more than $200.
Feldpausch said one of the reasons the program is struggling is because he doesn’t promote it to individuals who are not on a fixed income.
He is recommending limiting program payouts to 25 percent of the total cost for each ambulance transport. He said this would limit large claims while continuing to help people with recurring health issues.
District 2 Commissioner Tom Lindeman agrees with consulting an attorney, but said something needs to change soon.
“I’d rather see us do a small increase this year and continue to plan for the future as opposed to us doing nothing this year, showing a loss and then all of a sudden we’ve got to jump the price 10 or 15 percent,” Lindeman said. “If we don’t do something it’s going to start showing that red ink.”

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