Henry County supervisors not ready to make decision on county run EMS service

More questions than answers, list has been formed to send to HCHC board of trustees as board seeks details

MT. PLEASANT — Members of the Henry County Board of Supervisors have a lot of questions they want answered before deciding if the county will take the plunge and take over the operations of the ambulance service.

At a work session held on Monday, Feb. 24, supervisor Greg Moeller said a couple of his questions stemmed from the levee the hospital receives. Currently the hospital levees .27/$1,000 valuation for EMS. Moeller questioned if that money would still go to the service if the county ran the service. He also wanted to know what the money paid for, such as supplies or salary or both.

Moeller also wanted to see revenue reports from the Henry County Health Center (HCHC) from the last three years from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, private pay and the total deemed uncollectable on ambulance services only.

“I think we should have that for the last three years so we can figure out what they’re collecting and not collecting and where it’s coming from,” he said.

A new bill, the Ground Emergency Medical Transporation (GEMT) program was also discussed. Moeller said he understood the bill would allow EMS to apply for money from Medicaid it did not get reimbursed for the first time around but was unsure if it would apply to the county or a privately run service. According to the Iowa Department of Health Services website, it would.

Supervisors decided to form a list of questions they would like answered which will then be given to Henry County Attorney Darin Stater to write up in a legal format and present to the HCHC board of trustees. Among the answers the board is looking for are: a breakdown of calls received by both incorporated and unincorporated communities within the county, funding, a breakdown of employee benefits and staff requirements, life expectancy and requirements for owning and operating an ambulance, the percentage of revenue the service has brought in over the last three years, cost of outside billing and coding, if the new GEMT bill would apply if the county took over the service, how reimbursements would look if the county were to take over the service and the exact square footage of the space the ambulances are currently housed in at HCHC.

All supervisors agreed it was a large ask to take on in such a short amount of time but Moeller said he personally needs all the answers on the table before a decision can be reached.

“I don’t like to try and make a decision if I don’t have all the answers. I want to get as many answers as I can to try and make the best decision for the citizens of Henry County,” he said.

HCHC has stated it will continue to run the ambulance service until the supervisors reach a decision but the pressure is on to reach one by July 1. Should the county choose to take over the service, it would need to hold a special election, said county auditor Shelly Barber.

The election would need to be held on Sept. 8, 2020 and would need to be publicized 60 days before. The vote would be for a bond for five-year levee to fund EMS. If the county is unable to reach a decision by July 1, the county will have to wait until the following year to host an election.