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Tenn. county unsure of Medicare collections due to billing errors

Commissioners don't know how much funding has been left uncollected due to prior a computer software billing system used for the county's ambulance service

Crossville Chronicle

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. — County commissioners serving on both the emergency services and budget committees still do not know how much funding is left uncollected by Medicare due to the prior computer software that was used for billing for the county's ambulance service.

Commissioners on the emergency services committee were given the information during a report by Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. during last week's meeting.

Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson said in February, $241,000 was brought in to the account where $190,000 was from the new billing system. Approximately $51,000 had been collected through the old billing system.

Dodson said in order to expedite the process of catching up on old billing, a temporary employee would be hired to help relieve the EMS office manager to focus on collecting from old bills. Dodson said in the first two weeks of March, a total of $168,808 has been collected, but they are usure if the funds are from the new system or old.

"We found out that, due to the software that was used we can't generate the type of records needed to get that information," Carey said.

After communicating with Medicare officials, Carey said the only way that type of report could be generated would be if they were called in one ambulance run at a time, on a case by case basis.

Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, again, mentioned his concern about a budget shortfall due to funds from the old system not being collected and the amount of time ramping up in collecting 100 percent of funds through the new system.

Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, asked if there was a way to find out how much the county is owed by Medicare.

Carey said no, the old system has no way to show that. Koester then asked if the new company, AMB Mars Billing, could check into how much is still owed to the county.

Dodson said yes, and that some of those funds also were with a collection agency and may never be received.

Dodson also said if the county wanted AMB Mars to look into the old debt, they would do so at a rate of 20 percent of the collected amount, or would work at a consulting fee rate of $80 per hour.

Dodson suggested having his office work on re-filing the “stack of bills” to Medicare that is not paid to get caught up for now, but maybe adding the service from AMB Mars in the future.

Jan McNeil, 5th District commissioner, said some companies charge a percentage to collect and some charge a flat rate price.

Lynch suggested that Dodson follow up with what McNeil said about contacting companies to “chase this money.”

Carey said in order to hire someone else to do this, the bidding process would have to start again for a new third-party biller.

Lynch said that it was not a billing company that we were searching for, but a collecting company. McNeil said the collection company can give an accurate figure and outline to help clean everything up, and after this information is gathered and separated, it can give the proper number.

Carey said he and Dodson would get with Nathan Brock, Cumberland County finance director, and figure out the best approach to get quotes. He will report back to the committee at its next monthly meeting.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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