BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, April 14, 2012
4/14/12 at 4:41 AM
City Councilors Blake Ewing and Tom Mansur have made compelling arguments for an audit of the Emergency Medical Services Authority that would include a review of the agency's billing and spending practices.
We agree with the councilors: An audit is called for and it ought to be exhaustive, comprehensive and thorough enough to answer questions that have been raised.
Stories in the Tulsa World have raised questions about EMSA's billing and collections practices, as well as some of its spending. The World's investigation also has revealed some unsettling disclosures about EMSA and its CEO, Steve Williamson. Among them are the hiring of his daughter by the law firm that contracts with EMSA to handle its collections and the fact that the EMSA board has not conducted a job performance review of Williamson in about 30 years.
The City Council cannot force the EMSA board to commission an audit but the board ought to heed councilors' request. If the EMSA board does not order an audit, there are alternatives. EMSA is a political subdivision of the state of Oklahoma and so presumably the state auditor and inspector could conduct an investigative audit of the agency's operations at the request of the governor or the Legislature.
There is no question that EMSA provides top-notch emergency care. It responds rapidly to calls and its technicians and drivers are well-trained. It provides this service with no direct subsidy from city operating funds, although there is public money involved in the form of fees that most Tulsans and residents of other communities served by EMSA pay through their water bills to cover out-of-pocket costs for ambulance calls.
Let's have a comprehensive audit so everyone will know what steps might be needed to improve EMSA's management.