Setting the Record Straight on Ambulance Billing
Negotiations on a third-party billing system are "not finalized," and regardless of the outcome, the borough's ambulance corps will remain a volunteer and non-profit organization.
When an ambulance picks you up in Fair Lawn, who picks up the bill?
Towns like Ridgewood and Paramus have moved to third party billing systems for ambulance services, meaning that the municipalities bill patients' insurance companies for ambulance transportation because the municipalities own the ambulances, creating a source of revenue for the towns.
Fair Lawn's Borough Council has proposed a third-party billing system and is currently in negotiations on that matter with the Fair Lawn Volunteer Ambulance Corps, but the two sides have "not finalized anything," according to Gail Cebular, president of the ambulance corps.
Ron Lotterman, an EMT for the ambulance corps since 1986, explained that the corps is a "24/7 all-volunteer emergency ambulance service" that has never charged for its services. Regardless of the outcome of third-party billing negotiations, the corps will remain a volunteer and non-profit group, Lotterman wrote in an email to Patch. The organization sends out annual requests for donations to offset the cost of first aid supplies, training for members, equipment, and general operational needs.
For people who are confused when they receive a hospital bill that lists "ambulance service," Lotterman explained that such a listing actually represents work performed by the paramedics who treated the patient. In New Jersey, there are two levels of EMS service: BLS (basic life support), which is provided in Fair Lawn by the ambulance corps, and ALS (advanced life support), provided by the unit dispatched by MICCOM (paramedic dispatch).
The medic units are paid paramedics employed by the hospitals that run the units. In some cases, the ambulance corps is unable to get a crew for an emergency call, the Fair Lawn Police Department dispatchers will call MICCOM and have a paid BLS ambulance dispatched, Lotterman wrote. In those circumstances, a resident could see a bill from the paid BLS company.
The squad has experienced a significant shortfall in donations over the last couple of years but continues to offer free services, according to Lotterman. Donations can be sent to Fair Lawn Volunteer Ambulance Corps, PO Box 282, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410.
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