Washington County’s EMS Director says the recently approved air ambulance agreement with METRO Aviation is performing well.
Kevin Deramus, who provided the EMS department’s monthly report to county commissioners today (Tuesday), said the number of helicopter flights run through the first quarter of the agreement, from June to August, is 75 transports. That total aligns with projection models run by the county of at least 300 transports per year, with other models showing 360 and 420 annual transports.
Deramus said while it is still too early at this point to truly compare revenue versus cost for the agreement, revenue is better than expected through the first three months and is a positive early indicator thus far. He explained that of the 75 patients transported, 72 percent of them had private insurance, which pays more than Medicaid. In comparison, 40 percent of ground ambulance transports have private insurance.
A main difference between the agreement with the county’s current provider versus the one it had with REACH Air Medical Services is that the county receives all revenue from insurance providers. The court approved the new agreement in March with a start date of June.
Deramus also said reasonable rates make the county more favorable when going through the Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) process. The IDR system is part of the No Surprises Act, which became effective January 1st and settles billing disputes with insurance providers. Deramus said if an insurance company refuses to pay a certain amount, the county can take them to an IDR board, who determines what a provider would pay for services. He said since the county is operating with reasonable rates, the board is more likely to side with the county and ensure the insurance company makes payment.
Deramus said more data and trends will likely become available to review as the helicopter program continues over the coming months and years.
Also of note in Deramus’ report to commissioners was that the EMS department is fully staffed for the first time since late 2018 or 2019.
At today’s meeting, commissioners:
- Approved the purchase of a 2022 Ford F-150 crew cab for the office of emergency management. The purchase is from Appel Ford for $53,873.
- Approved an oil and gas development permit from Magnolia Oil & Gas Operating, LLC with a site location of Schoenemann Road in Precinct 4.
- Received reports from the sheriff’s office, E-911 and veterans service officer.