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Ambulance collection bill heads to governor

MANITOWOC – Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) and his colleagues in the Assembly have passed a bill to enhance our statewide 911 emergency system by enabling ambulance service providers to collect past due amounts in an efficient manner.

“People throughout the state depend on ambulance service providers to care for them in times of emergency and transport them to a medical facility for further care,” said Rep. Tittl.  “Many if not all of us could tell moving stories of how we or our loved ones have received this kind of attention in time of need.”

“What is not as well-known is the problem providers sometimes face on account of unpaid bills,” he said.

The charge for ambulance service can be $700 or more, depending on the location and the circumstances of the service provided. When ambulance services are unable to collect past due amounts and are forced to write them off as bad debts, the cost of ambulance service increases for all of the other users.

The resulting financial strain can jeopardize the willingness of ambulance service providers to continue providing 911 related services in some locations.

This bill addresses that situation by allowing certain ambulance providers to collect past due amounts using the Tax Refund Intercept Program run by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.  This program helps municipalities and counties collect debts such as uncollected parking violations, municipal utility fees, and other fines or charges by intercepting money owed to them by debtors.

To qualify for the program, the ambulance service debt must have originated through a governmentally operated 911 program, and the ambulance service must have been acting on behalf of a town, municipality, or county.

“Providing ambulance service is not like renting an apartment or selling a car,” said Rep. Tittl.  “The ambulance service provider is not able to do a credit check prior to answering the call.”  When the call is made, the ambulance service provider responds without regard to the financial situation of the person making the call or receiving the services.

The State Senate has already passed the bill, so it now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.