Entries Tagged 'Paramedics Plus' ↓

It’s time to study a Public option for ambulance service in Sioux Falls

Yesterday during the Sioux Falls City Informational Council meeting they discussed extending Paramedics Plus contract (or whatever they are calling themselves these days – Look at the INSERT COMPANY NAME line on this contract: contract-draft. They have changed their name so many times they don’t even know what their name will be when they sign the contract. Good Grief). While a 6 year contract wouldn’t be such a bad idea, it is unfortunate that we signing the contract with them;

For instance, you could have to wait a while for your ambulance — in some cases up to 90 minutes.

I think a 6 year extension would give the city time to explore and implement a public ambulance service, but I’m wondering if we should just leave it as a 5 year instead. When Mayor TenHaken was on Patrick Lalley’s show not to long ago he expressed that he may want to look at the public option down the road though people in his administration have said they don’t want to. I think if they started studying it RIGHT now, they could easily implement it in 3-5 years.

During the informational some kept trying to peddle the flat out falsehood that we are NOT subsidizing PP. We are. As taxpayers we are staffing our fire department to show up to these emergencies without reimbursement from PP. Councilor Pat Starr said just that during the meeting yesterday. Councilor Erickson tried to deflect Starr’s testimony by saying it would cost MILLIONS to run a public ambulance service. While the initial capital cost would be high, after it’s implementation we would be able to bill patients for the service and get a heavy subsidy. As of right now we are showing up to these emergencies and assisting a private for profit ambulance service and getting NO reimbursement. A public ambulance service would also be more affordable, faster, more reliable and be ran by qualified city union fire fighters and EMTs. For the public good it just makes more sense.

Is TJ Nelson Paul’s go to BS Artist?

There are a lot of FACTUAL arguments for and against using a public ambulance service. So let’s try to stick to those. Councilor Starr did;

And because in 2019 the city will begin a practice of allowing paramedics on the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to perform advanced life support at emergency scenes, Starr said now is that time.

“All fire fighters are EMTs, and we have a large number of paramedics that we pay to train,” he said earlier this month. “I’d like to see them take on that role because I see ambulance service as a utility, and it shouldn’t be a for-profit business.”

But that didn’t stop Mayor TenHaken’s Deputy COS, TJ Nelson, from spinning the issue;

“This is really a philosophical discussion,” said T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office. “But it’s unrealistic to think the city could prop up a city-run ambulance in two years and that’s not something we’d even propose.”

Philosophical? Has Nelson been reading Plato? It is an easy discussion to have based on research that is already out there. This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal philosophies. This is an ambulance service. I do agree you would NOT be able to start one in two years, but a 4-5 year time frame would not be unreasonable.

But this statement is just flat out false;

But Nelson predicts that study would show an astronomical financial burden on Sioux Falls and its taxpayers should future city leaders want to do away with the for-profit model historically used here.

“That would be a huge lift, dozens of new FTEs and millions of dollars in capital just to lift that up. And we’re getting it all now for no cost,” he said referring to the staffing increases a change would require, the construction elements that would come with equipping fire halls with additional space to house ambulances and the liability that comes with providing ambulance service.

NO cost? Was that some kind of sick joke? Right now the SFFD is responding to emergency calls, in fact over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies or similar events. They are ususally the first ones there before the ambulance. Our reimbursement for responding to these calls and essentially subsidizing Paramedics Plus is ZERO! With a Public Ambulance service we could contract a 3rd party to collect payments and work with insurance companies and medicare for a commission, we would receive the remainder. In other words we would be able to collect payments for service. Right now PP pays the city NOTHING for responding to these events. While initially the capital costs would be high, once the system is in place we would actually be taking in revenue from it. Just because it is PUBLIC doesn’t mean we cannot receive payments for the service.

As for having a consultant looking at options, Cameraman Bruce adds;

The use of J Fitch and Associates as our future ambulance consultant should be held in scorn. This is the operation caught in the middle of the federal probe of questionable practices. Paramedics Plus, it’s personnel and J. Fitch are partners in many operations and “clubs”. Any help from them would continue the wrongs we are experiencing.

It is time to explore a Public Ambulance service, but let’s do it in a HONEST and Transparent way.

 

 

UPDATE: Is Paramedics Plus looking to renew 5 year contract early?

UPDATE: Please tell me that the TenHaken administration is looking at public ambulances;

It’s unclear if Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration intends to support REMSA’s recommendation, though T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office, said TenHaken and the city health department will bring a recommendation of their own next month.

“We’re still formalizing what our recommendation will be,” he said.

Paramedics Plus executives could not be reached for comment.

Ultimately, the decision about extending Paramedics Plus’ contract lies with the City Council, which has members who have been critical of service in Sioux Falls.

I have heard from within the SFFD that many of the higher ups support a public ambulance service, and have for years, but have gotten resistance from the former mayor and chief. Maybe this will create a golden opportunity for TenHaken to achieve that goal. Maybe taxpayers will actually get something back from providing the service instead of just subsidizing a private service.

Rumor has it that the Sioux Falls city council was recently informed by the Health Department that PP was looking to renew their 5 year contract early. It isn’t scheduled to expire for another 2 years(?).

I find it a little suspicious with all the talk about public ambulance service and the SFFD training in ALS (Advanced Life Support) that PP is looking to renew 2 years early.

Could they be concerned the city may change it’s service to another company or better yet public ambulances within 2 years? The city could certainly fast-track and have a public ambulance service available within two years.

It will be interesting to see what the reasoning is behind the early renewal and if the city will allow it.

Breaking; Paramedics Plus and Parent Companies pay out $21 million settlement

We warned the city council about doing business with these folks, deaf ears;

Seven ambulance industry defendants have agreed to pay the government a total of over $21 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that they knowingly submitted claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs that violated the Anti‑Kickback Statute, the Justice Department announced today.

The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded programs.  The Anti-Kickback Statute is intended to ensure that medical providers’ judgments are not compromised by improper financial incentives and are instead based on the best interests of their patients.

The settlements announced today resolve allegations brought in a whistleblower action filed under the False Claims Act in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas by Stephen Dean.  Dr. Dean alleged that East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, Inc. and East Texas Medical Center Regional Health Services, Inc. (together, “the ETMC Defendants”), and their affiliated ambulance company, Paramedics Plus, LLC (“Paramedics Plus”), offered kickbacks to several municipal entities to secure their lucrative ambulance business, including Emergency Medical Services Authority (“EMSA”), Alameda County, California, and Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services Authority in Florida (“Pinellas EMSA”).  The False Claims Act authorizes private parties to file suit for false claims on behalf of the United States, and permits the United States to intervene in such suits, as it did here in part.

It seems more and more, the city likes doing partnerships with crooks.

It was Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr. Why not just say his name?

Mike Huether’s administration decided to take the ‘passive agressive’ approach when throwing a fellow elected official under the bus;

Recent comments made to a local news organization regarding Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and the Sioux Falls emergency medical services (EMS) system are a disservice to the residents and visitors of our city. When it comes to medical emergencies, our community is in safe hands.

What were the comments and who made them? Your press release doesn’t mean anything unless you tell us these important details. Maybe Mike’s communication director needs to go to ‘Writing a Press Release 101’ class.

Oh, and it gets better;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is exploring the potential to utilize paramedics, currently employed within their department, to be advanced life support responders during specialty incidents. Specialty incidents include events like water rescues, structural collapses, and SWAT responses. The addition of this response capability will have no impact on the City’s contract for surface ambulance service.

It will in fact have a HUGE impact. First off, we will be subsidizing our private for-profit ambulance service more AND we will finally be allowing 1st responders from our SFFD to perform advanced life support instead of waiting for a phantom ambulance to show up.

It’s time to move forward with a public ambulance service and stop the games.

REMSA to re-name their Ghost

I wasn’t able to find the ghost of Tuthill, will I find it when I call for an ambulance?

I guess at the REMSA meeting on Wednesday the board is renaming ‘Phantom’ ambulance in their Metro 911 training guide. Who wants to guess what the new name will be? I’m going with Morning Fog or Casper?

Cameraman Bruce plans to film the historic moment.

Council Agenda, Tuesday July 18, 2017

Besides consenting to $300K towards lighting upgrades to the EC, the council has a very busy agenda.

Item #32, Ambulance rate increases. This is another bizarre legislative item the city council has to vote YES on from advice of legal counsel. So what’s the point? Should be an interesting discussion about the power of the council.

Item #45, the council approves the (Half) gift of land to the Glory House. This is a good thing the council is doing. The only unfortunate part is that the mayor had to get his grubs into a deal because a 100% gift wasn’t his idea of hand up, you know, like a private tennis club the city gave $500K to.

Item #48, the council will be approving a resolution for a preliminary plan for Avera’s new south side campus. As a person who lives close to the DT campus, I am happy to hear they will not be expanding anymore in my neighborhood. Now if we can just get Sanford to stop gobbling up central Sioux Falls affordable housing.

Item #50, the council will be presented with the new districting maps. Not sure if they are approving them Tuesday night or not, it is unclear from reading the agenda item.

Item #51, this one is a mystery to me since there are NO attached documents with the item. It seems to be about picking an external audit firm for the city. The city has always used Eide Bailly to do their external audits which is just basically a financial statement audit. A few weeks ago, councilor Stehly asked if the city ever considered using alternative firms to change it up every couple of years and wondered if it was ever put out for bid. We’ll see I guess.

Ambulance Report Presser (with Questions) July 10, 2017

Unlike the City’s Propaganda Network’s version, Cameraman Bruce’s version has the Q & A portion of Press Conference.

BUT, BUT, BUT, we’re contract compliant. Don’t question us, we’re following the letter of the contract. Does it mean we have to show up? Does it mean the clock starts at the right time? Does it mean the ambulance is called immediately? Does it mean my loved one or me will be able to get to the hospital in time? Nope, because we’re contract compliant.

It doesn’t make us feel any better if you do say “BUT, BUT, BUT, we’re contract compliant” louder and louder from some high spot in the road where someone is laying. Just because you are trying to talk over us doesn’t mean you are right.

Jill Franken, our Sioux Falls Health Department Director, held a presser on Monday, July 10, 2017 to make sure we know Paramedics Plus is contract compliant. As City Council Chair Rick Kiley points out in front of our camera, even when it looks like they cook the books, 536 times on 544 is still a problem. But you know, the wambulance is contract compliant. Listen for the interesting phrases she uses to make it all better in their minds.

We’re still wondering about the approximately 300 priority calls in a two month period sent to the phantom 980 ambulance. Did you get to ride in the 980? Let us know.

Busy Sioux Falls City Council Agenda

It all starts on Monday at 10 AM with a press conference;

News conference to share the 2017 annual Ambulance Contract Performance Report

What is troubling about this report on Monday and later on Tuesday at the informational meeting is that the city council will get a first reading (Item #8) on a rate increase for Paramedics Plus Tuesday night at the council meeting, hardly enough time to review the increase. Why wasn’t this report provided a couple weeks in advance of the 1st Reading? Either way, due to the complicated contract, the council has NO choice but to approve the increase. So why even vote on it?

Item #6, the council will be voting on giving affordable housing more money. I have been a little critical of this program because instead of spending the money to refurbish older homes (which would be more equitable and give us more affordable housing) the city tears down houses and builds new homes that 1) don’t really fit into the neighborhoods 2) sell at a loss (to taxpayers) to make them ‘affordable’. I think to preserve neighborhoods we should be focusing on refurbishing older homes instead of bulldozing them. $2 million dollars could probably save 60-70 homes from destruction instead of just building a dozen new homes.

Barth on the B-N-B show this morning

Jeff made some great points about crime and its relationship with population increases, he also stated the obvious about ambulance service in Sioux Falls; all we are asking for is more mutual aid.