The insurance company of
patients taken to a hospital by the Emmitsburg Ambulance Co.
will be charged $300 per trip, said Joe Pelkey, company
president. "No one will be denied service," he said,
adding that people should not hesitate to call if they need
emergency services. Mr. Pelkey said they have contracted with
Cornerstone Inc. to handle the billing. "We won’t
accept payments at the ambulance company," he said.
"They handle it."
Cornerstone will receive 10
percent of the money it collects, which Mr. Pelkey said is
normal. Ambulance officers studied federal and state laws on
EMS billing before bringing the issue before the general
membership earlier this month. With the money generated, Mr.
Pelkey said the company hopes to purchase a third ambulance.
The volunteers handle about 1,100 calls annually.
Earlier this year, the
Emmitsburg area was left out of the countywide tax tier. Both
the ambulance company and Vigilant Hose Co. successfully
argued that since they are strictly volunteer, local residents
would be paying for service in other areas.
Ambulance officials say
nothing prevents them from striding out on their own, and
Frederick County Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. said he
supports their move. "I think they (ambulance companies)
should all be doing this. I've always favored ambulance
billing," Mr. Thompson said. "If more companies did
it on their own, the less the county would have to do."
Patients transported by
Walkersville Rescue Co. have been billed for several years,
and proceeds have been used to purchase equipment, and a
portion will go toward construction of a new building.
Residents in Walkersville are given an option to join a rescue
club, and by paying a nominal annual fee, they don't have to
pay the balance not covered by their insurance company.
A rescue club is not being
offered in Emmitsburg. Frederick County has been dis cussing a
countywide billing system for several years, and the rate
structure was recently supported by the county's volunteer
fire and rescue association. All volunteer companies would
receive 100 percent of the money generated from billing, while
those with part time career people would get 75 percent, and
the county, 25 percent. Departments with 24 hour career
personnel would receive 25 percent, and the county, 75
percent. Mr. Thompson, the liaison to the county fire and
rescue association, said he sees the program as a user fee.
"I'd be tickled pink if they would all do it," he