Third-party ambulance billing, a potential cash cow for the borough that has been delayed since last summer, will commence on March 1.
In mid-January, the borough and third-party intermediary Revenue Guard EMS Claims Management signed a two-year contract with a one-year extension option, borough manager Tom Metzler said.
For Fair Lawn residents who utilize the ambulance service, the switch means precious little. Transport will remain free to residents as well as non-residents, whether they're insured or uninsured.
"At the end of the day, no resident should ever pay a bill from the borough of Fair Lawn for ambulance service," Fair Lawn Volunteer Ambulance Corps president Dan Furphy said back in October. "We never ever want any money from a resident."
The cost paid to the borough for ambulance transport -- hundreds of thousands of dollars annually -- will be borne entirely by residents' insurance carriers.
Under the new arrangement, third-party biller Revenue Guard will submit insurance claims of $675 plus $10 per mile for all individuals transported by the FLVAC, take a commission and then give the rest to the borough.
In October, then-Deputy Mayor Joe Tedeschi said communities similar in size to Fair Lawn that utilize third-party ambulance billing had brought in between $500,000 and $600,000 per year. In a best-case scenario, Furphy estimated Fair Lawn's third-party ambulance billing revenues at $800,000 annually.
The revenue generated goes only to the borough, not the ambulance corps -- which remains an independent and entirely volunteer organization dependent on resident donations to operate.
"Don’t think we are benefitting from the money," Furphy said. "The borough benefits and subsidizes other services in town. We’re just cooperating with the borough because it’s a revenue opportunity for them that doesn’t hurt anybody."
Because the switch to billing interferes with the state's willingness to pay for ambulance corps recertification training, the borough has agreed to support $5,000 in annual training costs going forward, Furphy said.
In the event that ambulance corps fund driving is negatively affected because of the third-party billing ordinance, the borough has agreed to make up the shortfall.
The original third-party ambulance billing ordinance passed last summer, but implementation was delayed because it ran afoul of federal law, which requires the borough make at least one attempt to collect from federally insured (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, Disability) non-residents. The ordinance was revised to comply in October.