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N.Y. town council urges governor to sign full payment bill for EMS

Oneida officials sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul in support of bill that authorizes full insurance payments to ambulance services across the state



By Roger Seibert
The Oneida Daily Dispatch

ONEIDA, N.Y. — Oneida’s Common Council voted during the Aug. 1 meeting to support local ambulance services statewide. They did this by agreeing to write to Governor Kathy Hochul.

The problem revolves around who receives the insurance payment for those needing a ride. Insurance companies have been sending payments to patients and not to the ambulance companies themselves.

The bill, S1466, authorizes payments to nonparticipating or nonpreferred providers of ambulance services licensed under Article 30 of the public health law. It’s an act to amend the insurance law, in relation to payments to prehospital emergency medical services providers

“The insurance payment goes to the person who was transported and not the service providers,” Oneida City Supervisor Joe Magliocca said. “The Vineall Ambulance Service has come to call these rides as the Freedom Flight. And the Greater Lenox Ambulance Service calls this the Christmas Club, because most of the ambulance rides happen during the Christmas season.”

In the letter, the council will encourage Hochul to sign legislation into law authorizing full payments by insurance companies to licensed emergency medical services.

“Sending this letter will help not only ambulance services statewide but also in Madison County, where this help is badly needed,” Magliocca said.

Roseanne Warner, the mayor of Canastota, who also works at Vineall Ambulance Service, said state lawmakers have already passed the legislation. It is up to Hochul to sign it into law.

“The problem is, we can’t refuse service to anybody,” Warner said. “At the same time, ambulance services do not always contract directly with insurance companies. For example, a patient who uses our services would receive one hundred percent payment. Companies like ours would receive eighty percent, about the same rate as provided by Medicare.”

Patients who receive the insurance payments are often part of the problem, Warner said. “They will receive a check and, perhaps not knowing what it is, will go and spend it instead of submitting it to us,” she said.

Warner said even the passage of the law could not guarantee desired payments. “I spoke with ambulance service providers who work in Pennsylvania. They passed a law like the one proposed here but they are still having problems receiving fair payments,” she said.

The problem has been helped, Warner said, by a separate tax district dedicated to paying ambulance services in the towns of Lenox and Lincoln and the village of Canastota. She said the service providers receive 16 cents per every $1,000, or about $28,000 per year.

The bill would ensure that responding ambulance service companies receive direct payment for all ambulance service transports upon submission of an invoice to the insurance company without the need for the responding ambulance company to be a preferred provider.

It would also change the insurance law to provide that payments made to nonparticipating or non-preferred providers of ambulance services made by health insurers shall be done so directly to the provider or jointly to both the provider and the insured.

“State lawmakers passed this bill a couple of months ago. Now it’s up to Hochul to sign it,” Warner said.

Hochul’s office could not be reached for comment at presstime.

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