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Marble Falls approves base rate billing for EMS

Marble Falls City Council on May 17, 2022

The Marble Falls City Council deliberates on a switch to base rate billing for Marble Falls Area EMS. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Marble Falls City Council is the latest government agreeing to move to base rate billing for Marble Falls Area Emergency Medical Services. EMS Chief Johnny Campbell has been making the rounds to government clients that pay into the system. 

Campbell made his presentation to the Marble Falls council at its regular meeting Tuesday, May 17. He had already talked to — and received approval from — the Burnet County Commissioners Court, Granite Shoals City Council, and Emergency Service Districts No. 1, 3, and 9.

The changes are being implemented to streamline the billing process for patients and Marble Falls EMS administration. 

“The change to the billing structure that we approved basically makes it a lot more simplistic,” Councilor Bryan Walker said. 

Walker has worked in emergency medical services since 2012 and is currently a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Helotes. 

Campbell explained that the list of approved procedures, protocols, and medications becomes obsolete every time the state medical director makes an adjustment. 

“What we are trying to do is to take all of those procedures out of the billing, all of those medication lists out of the billing, and go to a base rate,” he said.

The base rate will replace complicated itemized billing that has been traditionally used for emergency services. 

“Previously, in healthcare, it was common to have billing very itemized out, where Bandaids, tape, medications, syringes, the amount of normal saline used, that kind of itemized billing list you’d see where if you went into the ER and you came out you’d get a massive list of everything that was used,” Walker said of the base rate adjustment. “So what this type of billing modification has done is take the itemization out of it. So now, basically, you’re just getting billed for the service, how far you’re being transported. And that’s basically the essence of it.”

The switch to base rate not only simplifies the patient’s experience, it also streamlines administrative duties. Of the EMS’ $4.1 million budget, 52 percent comes from patient billing. The switch to base rate will simplify the collections process.

“It’s a more streamlined approach to billing, which, I think, at the federal level and at the state level and at the citizen level, people have wanted to see a little more simplicity and transparency with medical billing,” Walker said. 

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Pedernales Electric Cooperative CEO Julie Parsley reported to the City Council that the number of meters in the co-op’s network rose by 25 percent over the past 4½ years. PEC currently covers 371,000 meters. 

“An average co-op, just to let you know, is 13,000 meters,” she told the council. “Your district is 32,000 meters. Just your district is two and a half times the size of an average co-op.”

Air Evac Lifeteam program director Terri Thompson reported that 30 percent of homes in Burnet County are subscribed to the service. It is seeking to increase that number. 

“It really does help us when our flight volume goes down,” Thompson said. “That membership revenue really helps us stay here.”

Annual Air Evac coverage is $65 for a household with members 65 and older and $85 for households with members under the age of 65. Coverage includes helicopter medical evacuation in 38 states with more than 320 locations nationwide.

The council also approved a special benefit for the Thousand Oaks Public Improvement District. The assessment levied on the properties within the PID is $10.4 million.

dakota@thepicayune.com