WAVERLY, Ohio — After a rocky few months of figuring out how the county would cover emergency medical runs, the Pike County Commissioners announced on Thursday they had found a solution, which includes a levy.
The issue came after the county and current ambulance provider MedCare failed to come to terms in an agreement for renewal. MedCare, which is an ambulance and sister company to MedFlight, released a statement earlier last year announcing the severance. They started providing ambulance services to the county after the county closed down its own EMS operations.
A spokesperson for MedCare said, “During that time, our teams have done a phenomenal job of providing safe, reliable, and high-quality transportation. Unfortunately, providing 911 services is a very challenging undertaking. Given the state of EMS today, we have been plagued with shifts in payer mix (more individuals going to Medicaid or self-pay), the cost of readiness, poor reimbursement from insurance companies, challenges with the No Surprises Act (NSA), and increases in salaries to recruit and retain partners. That being said, it is no wonder why nearly every public EMS system is subsidized through local taxes.”
MedCare said that they and their partners would continue to provide services through February 25, 2023, per their agreement which states that the county must be given a 180-day termination notice.
On Thursday, the county commission said they had signed an agreement with Portsmouth Ambulance to take over the calls for the county, effective next month. Portsmouth Ambulance, which is located in Galia County, covers the City of Portsmouth, among others for emergency squad runs.
“Our staff of trained professionals will be held to the highest standards and are required to pay attention to detail in all aspects of their job functions. With our high standards and trained professionals, family members will always be assured their loved ones are in safe hands and receiving the best care and treatment possible during transport,” the company said on its website.
The commissioners said the agreement was what was best for the citizens.
“Pike County has accepted a proposal from Portsmouth Ambulance to provide county-wide EMS coverage beginning in March of 2023. The agreement is for 3 years and will be revisited periodically with the expectation of renewing it for another 3-year term when this agreement expires,” the commissioners said on Thursday. “To further explain the events that led to this change; the EMS offer accepted in 2020 required no tax subsidy. In other words, it was expected to function without funding from taxpayers but rather from insurance billings. However, a year before learning of and subsequently accepting MedCare’s offer, Pike Countians had approved an EMS operating levy as the County service at that time was woefully underfunded. When a subsidy-free service unexpectedly became available it rendered the recently approved levy unnecessary. As a result, the EMS levy was only collected for one year, after which collections were suspended.”
The commissioners also said that there would be an EMS levy on the ballot this fall.
“It has become necessary to reinstate the suspended levy for the fiscal year 2023. To further complicate matters, 2 older but smaller EMS levies had expired during this period and fallen off the tax rolls. Unfortunately, our current EMS providers’ proposal to continue service increased from zero subsidies to $1,600,000.00. This represents over triple the amount of the EMS levy that will be reactivated this tax year. It became clear that continuing with MedCare was simply cost-prohibitive to the County. The new agreement is substantially less costly than our current provider and is in line with cost estimates derived from a review of past and current expenses from multiple providers …. in order to replace the 2 older levies that have expired and to ensure availability and continuity of EMS going forward, a tax levy commensurate to fund that effort will be put before Pike County voters in the fall of 2023.”