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




Carolyn Davis July 30, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Mr Hellyar, Thank you for your letter. It raises some good points, but I believe it is missing some important information. You say that "First, taxpayers are assessed a levy to fully pay for all services of EMS without consideration for insurance reimbursements" This seems fairly inaccurate since the paramedic levy only covers a "portion" of the costs of the EMS service. Unless there is a second levy, the remainder of the costs I presume come from the general fund. Now if the remaining general fund obligation for EMS services is "less" than the 390K amount you specify is used "recklessly" than I would say you were right. However, if that amount does not fully cover the balance of cost for EMS from the general fund, than you are just trying to make waves for some unknown reason. Are you the same guy that was running for the Avon Lake School Board that was accused of not wanting to "waste" money on special education? I recall you only received 4% of the vote and were the least voted for candidate. If you could do so much better than our current city council members why don't you run in the election?
Carolyn Davis July 30, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Found it - here's the article http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2011/04/25/avon-lake-schools-feeling-funding-pinch/ Mr Hellyar - are you really a tax opponent? What is that? is this you they are quoting in the paper? Tax opponents like Mike Hellyar, organizer of the North Shore Patriots, a local tea party group, see it differently. “More money in the hands of government means more money will be spent and wasted,” said Hellyar who attended the presentation. “Government doesn’t create wealth.” Oh - tea party! that explains your views on taxes.
Michael Lisi July 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I absolutely could not imagine an EMS which isn't fully funded from the budget. Does Mr. Hellyar think that all insurance companies cover emergency transportation? Or that those who don't have that coverage can pay out-of-pocket? I am a registered, conservative Republican but have become weary of those who also claim that tag and put false information out there to justify the fight against each and every honest dollar requested by a public entity. Any true conservative is for making the decision about use of tax dollars a local one. But we have the same individuals fighting against every dollar of taxation at every level. Is it possible that every tax dollar should be denied? If you see a conservative who denies all taxation, or for that matter, a liberal who always wants to tax, look elsewhere for your information.
Noah Webster (Hellyar) July 31, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Just so everyone here knows. Mr. Hellyar posts under the name Noah Webster on the patch. Mr Hellyar = Noah Webster.
Noah Webster (Hellyar) July 31, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Here is a Link to all his posts. Notice how he refers to the levy as a "huge 60 percent ems tax levy increase in his letter in his comments as webster. http://avon-oh.patch.com/users/noah-webster-997878a7
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Sir thank for your questions. First, there is only one EMS tax levy fund. The EMS levy fund is set to pay the full cost of EMS services. I have studied the EMS budget. By law general funds cannot be transferred to the EMS tax levy fund. Since the inception of the soft billing in Spring 2010 for ambulance fees the general fund has collected $788,971. By the end of 2012 it will be close to $1Million collected and not used to pay for EMS. I get my figures from the city. I do my homework to help my fellow citizens get the the facts honestly and completely. Remember I pay those taxes too I just don't appreciate having taxpayer insurance benefits used to fund general fund deficits when the money is needed for EMS. As for special education you are misinformed again. I raised concern that special ed in Avon Lake is outdated and extremely expensive. I had a special son. We lived in St Louis Missouri where there is a highly effective special education system and for that reason when we moved here he had been mainstreamed for years and graduated from Avon Lake High and two more of his brothers graduated from ALHS. Anyway, I forgive your personal insinuations about me and my motives. I have helped you have the facts to make an informed decision. That's my only motive. Regards.
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Thank you for the compliment. I am informed citizen. I get the information direct from the city. I take the time to study the issues and meet with city officials. Do you ? I'll bet you do not know that Avon Lake taxpayers who used EMS services had $788,971 of their health insurance benefits collected by the city for general fund use, not for EMS expenses ? Maybe you don't care what government costs. That's your choice. I care about what I pay for anything especially one of the biggest tax bills in my budget. As for the tea party I am proud to be involved. It's an American tradition going back, oh yes, to the founding of our nation. If you have never been involved, regardless of your political party preference I invite you to step put of your comfort zone and join us sometime. I think you would be pleasantly surprised. It feels really good to be involved and informed and working to make our America the best we can be...
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Mike. Your comment is just plain wrong. I am disappointed in your remarks especially the personal attack. If you have a sound fact based argument I welcome the discussion. Fro the record I am not opposed to a replacement levy. II proposed 1.5mils and earmarking the $390,000 ambulance fees for EMS only through the fire department. I am opposed to the size of the levy increase because $390,000 of Avon Lake taxpayer insurance benefits is used for general fund expenses not for offsetting EMS expense as most communities are doing. The 1.5 with the $390K earmarked for EMS would only require a 1.5 replacement levy. So, tell me how is that opposing taxes. Maybe it's really just being intelligent and calling for fair taxation and no misuse of taxpayer insurance benefits. That's what makes me a true conservative.
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 10:12 PM
I am proud of who I am. Good for you. It's not hard to figure it out. I did not try very hard to disguise who I am. I will gladly debate anyone on this topic. So far nobody has challenged my facts.
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Well are you saying that a 60% increase is not huge ? Add it to the school tax increase and the city will come knocking soon. Not all Avon Lake families are wealthy. I try to look at things from a broader perspective. Thank you for the links. I hope more people read my posts. I am not seeking agreement. My purpose is to inform, educate, investigate and hopefully develop some intelligent dialogue and get people to be more involved in civic affairs.
Noah Webster August 03, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Apologies to Carolyn for referring to sir. My spouse also Carolyn beat me up for that gaff.
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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something