Commission Receives Request to Cover Insurance Reimbursement
Jim Colvin and Joyce Raper, of the Wetzel County Ambulance Authority, recently explained to the Wetzel County Commission that Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance companies have greatly reduced reimbursements for patients being transported. The contractual allowance write-off percentage is at 63 percent which means the ambulance service only gets 37 cents of every dollar billed. Also, the bulk of the patients seen by the Wetzel County Ambulance Service are mostly Medicare or Medicaid patients.
The Summer 2017 flood in Hundred has greatly affected the authority as the insurance did not cover all of the expenses incurred. Also, to keep up ambulance coverage in the authority’s four locations, a great deal of overtime had to be paid out. Colvin added that Hundred VFD applied to FEMA for flood reimbursement in the amount of $45,000 for the authority’s losses. FEMA recently sent out a letter informing the claim was denied, so there has been an appeal filed. Therefore, Colvin requested funding from the commission for help without the insurance reimbursement for the Hundred VFD. They made a request for $150,000 from the commission with the possibility of being added to the commission budget at the amount of $50,000 per quarter. The commission decided to take all of the information under advisement and will offer a decision after their evaluation.
The commission also met with Terri Tyler of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority; Tyler requested funding for the 2018 litter control program. Tyler informed the commission that in the previous year there were fewer workers than in 2016, so there was money left over which allowed for crew members to already start cleaning the roads for this year. Tyler is hoping to hire more qualified crew members for this year. She feels that the roads are getting in bad shape with litter along several of the roads throughout the county. There was discussion of hiring a litter control officer, but that position would have to be appointed by the county commission. Tyler also reminded and encouraged the commissioners to attend the authority meetings which are being held on the second Wednesday of each month.
The commission passed a motion announcing March as National Red Cross Month. Sharron Kesselring of the American Red Cross reminded the commission the American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by molding the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Kesselring announced the American Red Cross responds to an event every eight minutes on average. She also expressed the importance of checking smoke alarm batteries and sensors. Kesselring stated smoke alarms go bad every 10 years and must be replaced to ensure safety. She added the American Red Cross distributed more than 2,000 free smoke alarms in the northwestern region of the state in 2017. The Red Cross has also provided over 250 services to military families, enrolled almost 5,000 people in health and safety classes and collected over 7,000 units of blood in 2017. For Wetzel County, the American Red Cross had four responses and assisted 104 families (approximately 260 people), 75 health and safety classes offered, 96 smoke alarms installed, and 408 pints of blood drawn in 2017. Kesselring also mentioned that there are only three registered volunteers in Wetzel County so more volunteers would be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested can volunteer on the American Red Cross website.
In another matter, Kathy Yates with the West Virginia Association of Counties spoke with the commission recently in regards to dental and vision plans available to county and local government employees. She explained several of the great benefits available and even offered to bring in documentation comparing current insurance rates versus the rates that her company provides. She will provide that information to the commissioners once she has compiled the results.
Hannah Ferrell of Wetzel County Hope and Memories met with the commission to request use of the Mollohan Center on April 28. Ferrell explained Hope and Memories provides gas cards to cancer patients to help alleviate traveling costs for those seeking medical treatment. Last year, Hope and Memories donated $14,500 to cancer patients in gas cards. Each patient is eligible to receive a $250 card twice a year. Ferrell requested the Mollohan Center to hold a “paint and sip” with all proceeds going toward Wetzel County Hope and Memories. Hope and Memories will be teaming up with the Community Festival of Trees this year to help cancer patients in need. The commission passed a motion allowing the use of the center, with expenses waived.
Terri Tyler of the Community Festival of Trees also requested use of the Mollohan Center for Nov. 16. This will be the fourth year for the Community Festival of Trees, which has raised more than $17,000 over the last three years. Tyler explained that three charities are selected to be recipients of the raised funds. Last year, the organization tallied $7,800 on the night of the event, allowing each charity to receive at least $2,000. Tyler said that if 100 people enter through the door on Nov. 16, each of the event-goers names will be entered into a drawing. The person whose name is drawn will be allowed to choose a charity to receive an additional $500. Each ticket costs $15 and people are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages. Past Festival of Trees beneficiaries include: Gabriel Project, Child Advocacy Center, Olive Branch Animal Rescue, Wetzel county Hope and Memories, Go Local Grow Local, Helping Hands, and Friends of Paden City Pool. A motion passed allowing the Community Festival of Trees to use the Mollohan Center Nov. 16 with expenses waived.
Per WV Ethics and Open Meetings Act, Agenda items for Wetzel County Commission will be posted within two days prior to meeting. Request for items requiring action should be submitted within that time frame.
The next scheduled Wetzel County commission meeting is scheduled for March 27 beginning at 9:30 a.m. located at the Commission Office on Main Street New Martinsville.