Columbus, town and village of New Berlin continue to hammer out ambulance issues

NEW BERLIN – The ambulance debate rages on as the three participating entities – Town of Columbus, Town of New Berlin and Village of New Berlin – discussed options during their respective monthly meetings.

In the last three weeks, the advisory board for the village ambulance service has met three times to discuss possible cooperation between the village service (NBAS) and the newly-formed Unadilla Valley Ambulance Corp. (UVAC), a not-for-profit company.

The village advisory board, which consists of two members from each of the three entities, also focused on remedying the $75,000 debt currently plagueing the NBAS and considered numerous suggestions from Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Wiggins.

“We’ve accomplished one fundraiser and we plan on more,” said Wiggins. “But we’re also working on new ideas to add revenue ... fundraising only goes so far unless we can stop the hemorrhaging, which I’m confident we can.”

Wiggins explained that the biggest concerns regarding the debt were the switch to a 24-hour service from 12 hours – and the resulting extensive overtime – and difficulty collecting payments for service. Wiggins suggested two propositions to the board last Tuesday. The first would be that the two, full-time primary medics be switched to a salaried position, which he said would reduce the amount of overtime pay and eliminate approximately $21,000 in costs for the year.

Second, Wiggins reported he had consulted with Blue Cross and Blue Shield regarding billing and that for a 2 percent fee, all insurance checks for services would be sent directly to the NBAS, as opposed to the individuals who received the service. This, he said, would stop what he called “the Wal-Mart people” and reduce the need for hard-billing.

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