Formal application of existing EMSA rules to be considered by board
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
4/25/12 at 7:58 AM
See previous stories about EMSA's financial practices.
Read an agenda for EMSA’s board meeting Wednesday.
Related story: EMSA fuss continues: Glenpool firm responds, bills.
EMSA's board will consider a proposal Wednesday that would formally apply rules of an existing program to all city utility bill customers.
The board will also consider whether to request an investigative audit of EMSA, vote on whether the agency should pay for its CEO's travel related to the American Ambulance Association and discuss proposals for an advertising campaign related to the utility bill program.
The board will also meet in executive session to discuss a personnel evaluation for CEO Steve Williamson, who has led the organization for more than 30 years.
The utility program proposal calls for board members to vote on changes to the TotalCare program's membership agreement and description. Residents in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and surrounding cities pay a monthly fee - $3.64 in Tulsa - on their utility bill to cover out-of-pocket costs for emergency ambulance service.
If the board approves the changes, residents of those cities would have 60 days following an ambulance transport to supply insurance information to EMSA or they would be responsible for the entire bill.
Williamson declined to comment on the proposal or other items before the board, referring questions to an EMSA attorney.
"EMSA's billing and collection process is thorough, fair and can be trusted. It is similar to any health care organization of our size," states an e-mail from attorney Kris Koepsel. "To imply otherwise is misleading."
Williamson instituted the requirement several years ago. He has said the time limit is necessary because some patients neglected to give EMSA their insurance information and the agency cannot afford to provide services without reimbursement from insurers.
Though EMSA has been enforcing the requirement for several years, it has not been approved by the agency's board or included in city ordinances authorizing the program.
EMSA sends a request for insurance form to all patients, along with a bill stating amount "due from patient." The forms do not contain information about the utility program or inform patients if they are enrolled in it.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett has called on EMSA to stop applying the requirement to patients. Bartlett said last month that EMSA board member Clay Bird, the city's economic development director, "is going to demand that EMSA cease this whole warning regarding people being removed from the program. It's not right."
City Attorney David O'Meilia told city councilors last month he's unsure whether EMSA can compel Tulsa residents to abide by the TotalCare agreement.
Citizens who live in single-family homes automatically pay the $3.64 monthly fee unless they opt out of the program. Those who live in apartments and condominiums are also enrolled automatically unless the complex opts out of the program and they sign a form acknowledging they have been informed.
O'Meilia said he believes the city would need to have a contract with EMSA stating the agreement and that the contract would need to be included in the city's ordinance authorizing the program.
Original Print Headline: Board to weigh applying rules
Ziva Branstetter 918-581-8306
City Attorney David O’Meilia: He has told councilors month he’s unsure EMSA can compel residents to abide by the TotalCare agreement, saying he believes the city would needto have a contract with EMSA stating the agreement.