Mutually agreed ambulance, approved fee schedule

A mutual assistance agreement for ambulances between the Sturgis and Three Rivers Public Safety Departments, as well as a fee schedule for a service soon to be launched in Sturgis, were approved by the Sturgis City Commission on Wednesday.

As part of the licensing process with the state for an ambulance service, City of Sturgis officials must have signed a mutual aid agreement and an interception agreement with another EMS provider in the State.

Staff contacted the Three Rivers Fire Department and developed draft agreements to meet this requirement. The two agreements set out the framework for assistance provided by either department in the event of an ambulance shortage due to high call volume. The language of the mutual aid agreement is standard across the state.

The Interception Agreement covers the terms of assistance when an Advanced Survival Interception of a Basic Survival Ambulance is required. This would occur when only a BLS ambulance is available in the Sturgis service area and the call requires an ALS ambulance to meet Sturgis crews on the way to the hospital. This would take place when transport to the nearest hospital is not an option due to the type of call. The ALS interception agreement included a $400 fee associated with each interception. ALS interceptions are rarely used in most circumstances and staff do not expect to use the services of the cartel more than a few times a year.

After discussion, the mutual aid agreement was unanimously approved by the municipal commission.

An agreement on the ambulance fee schedule from May 1 was also unanimously approved by the city commission on Wednesday. The Department of Public Safety plans to add an ambulance service to its fleet to help locally alleviate what is a growing problem nationwide – staffing and ambulance service shortages.

As part of the approved May 1 ambulance service start, the city was to establish a fee schedule for services provided by the Sturgis Department of Public Safety ambulance.

The fee schedule is comparable to other fire-based EMS operations, and the fee is lower than that established by LifeCare Ambulance in the city’s current contract.

The 2022 ambulance fee schedule includes $800 for an advanced survival run, $600 for a non-emergency ALS or basic survival emergency; $450 for BLS transportation and $15 for each mile while a patient is on board the ambulance.

City staff contacted Ambulance Billing Network, who reviewed the proposed fee schedule and agreed that it was appropriate for our area and consistent with other agencies’ fee schedules. Medicare/Medicaid and some private insurance companies will only pay what has been established as an allowable rate for the service area, so actual collection will generally be less than what is charged. In many cases, the city can still bill the patient for the rest. Proposed legislation could change that in the years to come.

As part of the city’s agreement with Ambulance Billing Network, staff will review the fee schedule annually to ensure it is consistent with industry standards and reflects appropriate charges for the services provided, a said Ryan Banaszak, Director of Public Safety.

Commissioners Brandon Kinsey, Travis Klinger and Karl Littman were absent from Wednesday’s meeting. Mayor Jeff Mullins later requested that discussion of a review of the Agenda Purchase Policy be postponed until “we have everyone here to participate in the conversation”.

Lillian L. Pena