Medicaid puts financial stress on Carlisle County Emergency Service

Carlisle County leaders worry the costs of its ambulance service will eventually mean higher taxes for you. The county’s service is funded through an ambulance tax on property owners and insurance reimbursements.

Carlisle County Ambulance Service Director Wayne Floyd said he understands the importance of the work he does.

"Everybody deserves medical care, everybody. That’s why we’re out here 30 miles from the nearest hospital," Floyd said.

He says anytime Carlisle Ambulance Services gets a call, they have to take it, even if a patient can’t afford it and it means missing out on pay.

"We don’t go after anybody or anything like that. It’s just a complete loss," Floyd said.

Those losses are adding up. With many doctors refusing to take Medicaid patients, Floyd says more people are calling ambulance services to get the care they need. Medicaid doesn’t always pay the bill.

"They’ll look at it and say, ‘It wasn’t life or death. It wasn’t really an emergency, so we’re just not going to pay the ambulance service,’" Floyd said. 

He says the reimbursements they do receive don’t cover the costs of a run in a rural area. Not only does each run take equipment, fuel and medication, but it also takes two EMTs and a paramedic. 

Floyd pointed out a $13,000 bill. The Medicaid reimbursement covered less than half.

U.S. Rep James Comer spoke on the issue when Floyd brought it up to him at a town hall on Wednesday.

"If something is not done about the Medicaid population in the state, then they’re going to continue cutting reimbursements," Comer said.

Floyd doesn’t want to see Medicaid end.

"I go into homes that if they didn’t have it, it would be terrible," Floyd said.

He does want to see some solutions.

We reached out to the state’s Medicaid office, but have not heard back. Carlisle County Judge Executive Greg Terry says the fiscal court does not plan to raise taxes yet. If costs continue to rise in the future, he says it may have to be considered to keep ambulance services running.

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