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Stop Paying Twice for Avon Lake EMS: Letter to the Editor

Reader says EMS levy is a misleading proposition.

Stop Paying Twice for Avon Lake EMS

Let me open this letter by stating clearly that I am not opposed to a fully funded EMS. I do oppose the huge 60 percent EMS levy increase because it is at best a misleading proposition and much more than is needed. Here’s what you are not being told.

Did you know that your health insurance premiums might be used to fund city expenses like mowing lawns and pruning trees? How do you feel about the city collecting twice for

In 2011 the City of Avon Lake billed insurance companies $391,000 for EMS ambulance services. These reimbursements were paid for by the insurance premiums of those who were transported by EMS. Not a penny of those reimbursements is meant to reimburse EMS. The practice is called ‘soft billing’ and it is a ‘double-dipping’ arrangement that enables the city to get paid twice for providing EMS ambulance services.

Here’s how it works. First, taxpayers are assessed a levy to fully pay for all services of EMS without consideration for insurance reimbursements. When a service is provided and the individual has insurance, the city soft bills an insurance company a fee for that service. However, since the cost of that service is already paid for from the EMS tax levy fund, the city collects those reimbursements to pay for general expenses.

For those whose insurance companies were billed it gets better. Those folks, who also pay that EMS tax, also pay insurance premiums to have coverage and benefits for healthcare expenses. However, in Avon Lake their health benefits will benefit the city general fund, not for funding EMS safety and health services.

Many communities apply the insurance reimbursements to supplement the expense of their EMS operation. This is the way it should be done and this is why Avon Lake voters should reject Issue 3 and demand a fair and reasonable proposal be put on the ballot in November. EMS can be more than fully funded with $1.63 million by a modest 1.5 mil replacement levy $1.24 million, and earmarking ‘soft billing’ revenue, $390,000 to be applied to the fire and safety budget.

As a 16-year Avon Laker, and a senior, like many others, I want my EMS tax levy and my insurance benefits paid to keep EMS fully funded. I object to a ‘double-dipping’ scheme that diverts insurance benefits of taxpayers to cover city budget deficits. Avon Lake citizens must demand better than this from your elected officials. Let’s stop all the irrelevant talk of loss of services. Let’s approach this honestly based on facts and fair and full disclosure. Vote ‘NO’ on Issue 3 on Aug.  7 and get a fair and reasonable proposal on the November ballot.

Michael D Hellyar Sr.

Avon Lake

 

 

 

Michael Lisi August 06, 2012 at 12:19 AM
My comments are correct!!! To risk that insurance payments or personal checks will cover EMS costs is foolish. Mr. Hellyar would rather risk running in the red. No comment I made was was an attack or insulting. I am pointing out that, if a conservative such as Mr. Hellyar yells about every dollar which is requested, he is not objective nor a conservative. The problem is that Mr. Hellyar does not understand the issues for which he claims an expert opinion whether it be through these postings or his own "robocalls" which hijacked your phones today. I would leave the informing and educating to someone who is a little more adept at researching the issues and understands the civic finance and budgeting.
Noah Webster August 06, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Mike, you obviously do not understand how this works so you resort to ugly personal attacks. There are no personal checks. There is no risk of running in the red. The number of Avon Lake residents who have insurance does not fluctuate much year to year. Once again you make emotional allegations with no facts. The fact is that most Ohio communities do just as I have suggested. They use the insurance collections for their fire and EMS budgets to help offset the need for large tax increases like the Avon Lake 60% increase. My proposal would fully fund EMS and leave an $80,000 surplus. Do some real homework and stop the hateful personal attacks.Your comments are unbecoming of a teacher.
Tim Maloney August 11, 2012 at 07:56 PM
As a fellow "senior" and life-long Republican I find Mr. Hellyar's distorted view of the EMS funding issue repugnant, but fairly typical of tea party activists propensity to distort reality when it suits their purposes. Mr. Hellyar claims that the insurance receipts added to the current EMS levy amount would more than cover the cost of EMS services. That is absolutely false! The general fund currently supplements the EMS costs by an amount significantly in excess of the insurance receipts. His reference to the "form" language is another attempt to distort reality. The city does not charge EMS users for transport if they do not have insurance. Fees received come strictly from insurance companies. I moved to Avon Lake 9 years ago largely due to the bargain property tax rates. The city has been extremely cautious in its spending, and I am confident that they ask for more only when there is a genuine need. The "tea party" component of the Republican party is driving me to seriously consider changing my party status to independent in spite of over 50 years as a registered Republican. Tim Maloney
Noah Webster August 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Here we go again. It's sad that Mr Maloney cannot hold the personal affronts and uninformed accusations. First, I did not say that 1.5 mils added to the insurance collections would pay all EMS expenses. I said it would fund an EMS levy budget of $1.549 million with a surplus. Second, did not say that people without insurance are charged by EMS. I said that everyone who is transported is presented with an authorizing form that includes a statement of financial responsibility for past,present and future EMS charges. Do you deny the form exists because I will gladly post it for all to read. But your raise a point you and everyone needs to consider about this 'soft billing'. Why do they ask you to sign a financial responsibility acknowledgement if the "reality" ,is as you claim, that you are not actually going to be held responsible ? here's hint. To be reimbursed for the EMS charges, the insurance company and Medicare requires evidence that you are in fact held responsible to pay those charges. Give that some thought. Mr Maloney, I do not distort reality I present it for all to consider. Have a good day.
Noah Webster August 12, 2012 at 12:49 PM
To Mr Maloney. Now, as to those insurance collections. They do not come from some anonymous account at an insurance company ? No, they come from the health and Medicare benefits paid for by taxpayers who incur EMS charges. Health and Medicare insurance is costly. If there is anything repugnant it is claiming the need for a 60% increase in the EMS levy while using any of those taxpayer's insurance benefits to pay for city general expenses. This is the reality and most taxpayers have no clue. Is that fair taxation ? In the interest of full and fair taxation the EMS authorization form should include a disclosure stating that amounts received from your insurance reimbursements collected by the city are not required to be applied to pay the cost of providing EMS services and may be used to pay other city expenses. This is the reality and it wrong and not fair taxation.

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