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story.lead_photo.caption The Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville. - Photo by Andy Shupe

FAYETTEVILLE -- People without insurance and insurance companies will see higher charges from Central Emergency Medical Service starting today, Chief Becky Stewart said.

The ambulance service's Executive Committee approved Wednesday increasing its fees for insurance companies and self-insured people by 15 percent. The highest increase is about $129.

For example, an ambulance with a paramedic going to help someone in cardiac arrest is now $989, up from $860, according to records released at the meeting.

The increase, which includes everything from patient transfers to oxygen administration, comes as Central EMS officials grapple with changes to the Affordable Care Act that have strangled cash flow this year. The problem is national and industry-wide, Stewart said.

Ambulance service estimates show Central EMS could see a cash shortfall of $510,000 by the end of December. Readily accessible cash was at $162,817 as of the end of June, down from a high of about $1.8 million about a year ago, said Glenn Morgan, committee member.

Owen McAdoo, finance director, noticed the cash flow problem earlier this year as the amount of cash money started to shrink faster than the expected, he and Morgan said. That happened despite the growing number of calls and the ambulance service meeting revenue expectations, records show.

The revenue is what the service bills out.

The problem is the number of people without insurance is growing. Other people are seeing higher deductibles or insurance they either can't or won't pay for, Central EMS committee members said.

At the same time, changes in Medicaid and Medicare programs have delayed payments to the ambulance service, meaning Central EMS isn't seeing steady reimbursements. New state requirements on people participating in a program to provide health care coverage to people in need likely will mean people more people dropping health care coverage, Stewart and others said.

"This move off of ACA is going to get worse," Morgan said.

NW News on 07/19/2018

Print Headline: Central EMS committee endorses fee hike

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