Adams Co. Ambulance Service trying to put an end to financial crunch

The Adams County Illinois Ambulance Service is feeling the budget pinch and the agency is only a few months into their fiscal year budget.

The shortfall is being caused by a combination of things. Staffing issues, low reimbursements from the State of Illinois on calls for patients who are on public aid and a mixture of lower revenue and higher expenses. But one thing ambulance service chief Paul Davis wants to emphasize is that they can't cut back on staffing levels.

"Because our minimum and maximum staffing numbers are the same and two people are required on our ambulance. At least one paramedic and an EMT. When someone is off on earned time, we back fill that with overtime and presently there are rules according to the contract which govern the way we can fill that overtime," Davis said.

According to the latest monthly reports, the ambulance service saw their income for January of 2012 fall to $168,691 for the month, with expenses in the same month totaling $258,102. For the month of February, income was at $216,219, while expenses came in at $240,774. So far this year, the balance sheet has a negative balance of $176,952 and one of the big pieces to the negative balance is the low reimbursement rates from the state. Right now, the state only reimburses about 63% of the total bill for those patients who are transported by the ambulance and are on Medicaid.

"In essence, after the government programs have paid, if there's any copay it's minimal. But after programs have paid, anything that is leftover has to be written off," Davis said.

So with that in mind, the ambulance service had to write off about $713,000 in lost revenue just last year because of the disparity between what the service charges per run and what the percentage the state will reimburse. Davis hopes that over the next few months, the balance sheet will improve and that they'll be able to reach a point where it's a break even in both revenues and expenses.

Davis added that some additional revenue will begin to show up in the monthly statements once the payments for the increased fees on calls for service start flowing into their county coffers. The new fees began on April 1, 2012 and were increased to $700 per emergency call for county residents.

Davis also said he plans to call a meeting with the ambulance board, the county finance committee and the employee's union.

He said he would like to reach an agreement to allow the ambulance service to fill in open shifts with a combination of full-time and part-time employees.

He says that could cut down on overtime expenses.