EMS Discussion Continues

Written by Theresa Rose on July 22, 2020

The Henry County Supervisors continue to consider the best way to help Henry County Health Center keep Emergency Medical Services.  Until a couple of weeks ago the board was trying to decide if it was feasible for the county to take over the ambulance service.  HCHC loses certain insurance reimbursements because EMS is not considered an essential service for a critical access hospital per the Federal and State governments. HCHC loses anywhere from $600,00 to $700, 000 a year by owning EMS.  The difficult part to understand is that the service isn’t losing that kind of money. It’s more like being penalized by Medicare for owning the so called non-essential service Recently the county has been exploring the possibility of somehow reimbursing the hospital and allowing HCHC to continue to operate EMS. Basically, they have learned they can do this but in order to do so the county has to levy for the dollars and that levy would have to be voted on by county residents.  The supervisors are still trying to work out what that levy would be.  And they also need to work out the exact verbiage to be used on a ballot to be put before the voters.  The hope is that it can be done in time for the November 3 election. The ballot must be specific as to the levy amount, how the revenues from the levy will be used, and what the County and hospital obligations are.  The other question the supervisors must answer is what kind of support does the county want to provide HCHC… will they cover the entire amount of the losses, a portion of the losses or simple provide a certain dollar amount each year?  The supervisors and HCHC must also agree on the amount of the losses.  But the concept of loss is complex due to the reimbursement rules the hospital must abide by. The Supervisors and their lawyer are waiting for some necessary information and a draft of a contract from HCHC.