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    Default Billing questions...

    This forum is titled Federal FIRE ACT Grants & Funding. So a funding question. We are a volunteer department that has engine, mini, squad, brush, and ambo. We do ambulance billing. However, I feel the company could do better. But my question is how many depts. bill for fire service?

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    We do. Only time we don't is when the resident has a membership and no insurance.

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    In neighboring West VA.....they said they bill for refusals on all MVC's. Sometimes collect over 5,000 bucks per wreck depending on the number of people.

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    As in they show up and the patients refuse care? If we roll an engine, we bill. If cancelled, we bill. Our engine roll is for life safety and hazmat issues, not patient care. Our first responders get the information for billing.

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    The only thing we bill for is MVA's and then only if the owner is out of district, though it is getting tough to get the insurance companies to pay. I actually had one adjuster tell me he had more lawyers than I did, sue me.

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    we bill for all accidents and all fires. this would be our 2nd yr and we did fairly well last yr.

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    we bill each property owner $35.00 per household. If they only have property it's also $35.00 per yr. If they choose not to become a "member" we charge $500.00 per fire department that was paged out for the call up to a max of $5,000. ( $300.00 max for MVA). This means the bill start out at $1,500 as we have automatic aid agreements with three fire departments. If the member pays the "dues" then no charge. First responder calls are free unless ambluance transports.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OsbornFPD View Post
    The only thing we bill for is MVA's and then only if the owner is out of district, though it is getting tough to get the insurance companies to pay. I actually had one adjuster tell me he had more lawyers than I did, sue me.
    I'm curious how his mother-company would have liked having a news headline of "XXXXXX insurance refuses to pay fire department bill." All the attorneys in the world can't defeat bad publicity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    I'm curious how his mother-company would have liked having a news headline of "XXXXXX insurance refuses to pay fire department bill." All the attorneys in the world can't defeat bad publicity.
    of greater concern would be how they have kept from being sued by the insurance companies for their not billing all parties equally. the law in most states says you must bill without prejudice to whether they are taxpayers or not.
    Doesn't mean you have to try and collect from local taxpayers, just that you can't discriminate by billing only out of towner's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    of greater concern would be how they have kept from being sued by the insurance companies for their not billing all parties equally. the law in most states says you must bill without prejudice to whether they are taxpayers or not.
    Doesn't mean you have to try and collect from local taxpayers, just that you can't discriminate by billing only out of towner's.
    If you're a fire district (tax-based) in Missouri, you cannot bill tax-payers of the district since they are paying for service. You can, however, bill non-residents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    If you're a fire district (tax-based) in Missouri, you cannot bill tax-payers of the district since they are paying for service. You can, however, bill non-residents.
    For fire. For rescue I believe you can - as in vehicle rescue, hazmat, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    For fire. For rescue I believe you can - as in vehicle rescue, hazmat, etc.
    I've always heard the same about rescue, but who knows.

    We don't bill and our board (nor I) really want to get into that right now. There's enough local termoil with the fire departments still from that fire to the north of us and with our district that we're trying not to stir up too much of anything.

    Now haz-mat, I'm all over. I'm hoping that new bill doesn't pass, (upping reportable quantity on hydrocarbons to 3,000 gallons and limiting the spiller's payment to 25% of total cost), that's going to be a nightmare.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    For fire. For rescue I believe you can - as in vehicle rescue, hazmat, etc.
    you could be right, I'm not sure, if I get a chance later today I'll check the statutes again, probably need to anyhow, they might have thrown something new in there I missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    I've always heard the same about rescue, but who knows.

    We don't bill and our board (nor I) really want to get into that right now. There's enough local termoil with the fire departments still from that fire to the north of us and with our district that we're trying not to stir up too much of anything.

    Now haz-mat, I'm all over. I'm hoping that new bill doesn't pass, (upping reportable quantity on hydrocarbons to 3,000 gallons and limiting the spiller's payment to 25% of total cost), that's going to be a nightmare.
    That's some bad legislation there, I've written every politician in our area about why this is a bad thing hopefully they'll listen.

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    Default Negative side of billing.

    This story ran over the weekend in Indianapolis about a small volunteer fire departments billing.

    http://www.theindychannel.com/news/22617542/detail.html

    This is the reason we have not started billing for any services yet.

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    Would any of you that do bill be willing to share a billing letter or information on how your billing is set up? We bill for all haz mat incidents through a city ordinance. This goes to recoup the cost of the equipment we use on scene since snything with Haz mat increases in price about three fold.
    Please email any information to me at:
    hickboy76@hotmail.com

    Thanks

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    Wasn't it not to long ago (Within the last year) that a southern state outlawed billing for services across the state ? Maybe it was Okie state.Anyways we talked about doing it,but some insurance policies clearly state the if you live within a fire district for which you are taxed for fire service that the insurance company would not pay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtndew21 View Post
    Wasn't it not to long ago (Within the last year) that a southern state outlawed billing for services across the state ? Maybe it was Okie state.Anyways we talked about doing it,but some insurance policies clearly state the if you live within a fire district for which you are taxed for fire service that the insurance company would not pay.
    There was something on the news last night about a department, thru an outside company, charged a family around 28k bucks for a total loss house fire. Sounds to me like they did not get their money's worth if the department lost the house.
    (and before some of you go off on me I fought fire for several years and do know what all can happen. just making a statement here)

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    WJ, thats what the link above to the indy news channels is talking about. The billing company rep, stated something about the EPA laws allowed them to bill for numerous things.

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    Looks like ABC News wants to do a headline story on the issue of billing

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/charged-cra...ory?id=9726701

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    Default Only want to bill our fire board members

    since they are the ones who have kept our budget flat for 10 years and have actually lowered our mill levy so that we are the lowest of any fire district in a 4 county area

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtndew21 View Post
    Looks like ABC News wants to do a headline story on the issue of billing

    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/charged-cra...ory?id=9726701
    I'm really tempted to send this link to my brother- and sister-in-law. She was in a wreck a few years ago where she hit a bull that roamed onto the highway. One of the FD's that responded tried to get her husband to sign an authorization to bill.

    Usually, I wouldn't have a problem with this. However, this department did nothing but traffic control (another department provides auto-aid rescue for them and beat them to their own call) and it happens to be a department that made headlines for refusing to fight a non-member fire. Somehow I guess it's ethical to bill a non-member for a wreck, but not a fire.

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    We never have or ever will bill an individual, bills go to the insurance company or not at all. Never had anyone sign anything, we will ask the HP to make sure he includes our presence in his report.
    All MVA's don't get billed either, if it's just a quick out and back we usually don't bother with it. We seem to get more than our share of semi rollovers and those can tie you up for hours sometimes, most insurance policies have a provision for paying for emergency services if you look closely and we don't try and gouge them like some of the billing services try, usually in the range of $100-$500, we tried a billing service once they would come up with bills in the 2-3 thousand dollar range and usually not collect squat. I'd rather have a $100 bill get paid and buy some fuel than no response on a $2000 bill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OsbornFPD View Post
    We never have or ever will bill an individual, bills go to the insurance company or not at all. Never had anyone sign anything, we will ask the HP to make sure he includes our presence in his report.
    All MVA's don't get billed either, if it's just a quick out and back we usually don't bother with it. We seem to get more than our share of semi rollovers and those can tie you up for hours sometimes, most insurance policies have a provision for paying for emergency services if you look closely and we don't try and gouge them like some of the billing services try, usually in the range of $100-$500, we tried a billing service once they would come up with bills in the 2-3 thousand dollar range and usually not collect squat. I'd rather have a $100 bill get paid and buy some fuel than no response on a $2000 bill.
    Amen to that brother, reasonable and customary charges! A little of something always better than a lot of nothing.
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    What controls do you have if you employee a company to do your billing. This has to be approached VERY carefully. Many in our district have insurance money that is available if you ask. Our thought is that if we start billing and the insurance companies start refusing all bills. (Post from above) we would be out any monies. This is a very tricky subject in our rural department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktb9780 View Post
    Amen to that brother, reasonable and customary charges! A little of something always better than a lot of nothing.
    There is the big factor. The department I spoke of bills insurance regularly on MVC's, yet they do no extrication, provide only first responder-level EMS (if they assist with patient care at all), and help with traffic control. That's it. Even the department that responds auto-aid on all their MVC's and provide the extrication doesn't bill. That annoys me as a fire chief, even if I disregard the past issues and politics between our departments.

    I had a converstation with a friend of mine this afternoon. He's from a nearby department and was telling me of a billing story where a department mutual aided his for a spill involving a saddle tank. The MA department used their fancy spray-on stuff that breaks down the fuel and used some plug-n-patch on the tank. They billed $2,000! To me, that's hardly reasonable.

    It's crap like this that's lead to a state senator pushing a bill in Missouri that increases the reportable quantity of hydrocarbons from 50 gallons to 3,000. On top of not being able to bill for reimbursement until the spill is 3,000 gallons, the FD can only count on 25% of the bill being paid due to the changes. Hopefully it doesn't go through, as I know many organizations fighting it tooth and nail.

    What I think some departments lose sight of the fact that billing is meant to reimburse for time and costs of the incident, not to make money.

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