Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 10, 2013

Elk Rapids to debate ambulance shortfall

By BRIAN McGILLIVARY bmcgillivary@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — ELK RAPIDS — A $150,000 budget shortfall for Elk Rapids Township’s ambulance department concerns some area residents who suspect the township board may downgrade the service.

Township officials said that’s not the case. Board members will meet at 7:30 today in the township government center on Bridge Street to discuss the issue that also affects Elk Rapids village and Milton Township.

The township’s ambulance service recently upgraded to advanced life support, but billing changes and lower reimbursements from Medicare put in a crimp in the cash flow. A group of township residents said they believe the township board plans to drop the ambulance service back to basic life support service, which provides a lesser degree of treatment.

“We’re really not talking about going back to basic life support,” said Bill White, township supervisor. “We are talking about how to run advanced efficiently.”

Christine Keenan, an administrative assistant for the ambulance service, said part of the problem is a change to a new billing service that eliminated revenue for almost two months while the change-over took place. She said billings are just now returnign to normal, but revenue is still less than anticipated.

Keenan said ambulance administrators already made several cuts to help trim the deficit, and further reductions would eliminate the ability to operate as advanced life support. Keenan and others initiated a petition that asks the township board to increase the fire and ambulance millage.

“The community feels they really want advanced life support to operate in Elk Rapids,” Keenan said. “It saves a tremendous amount of time compared to waiting for (advanced life support) in Traverse City to arrive.”