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More Pahrump ambulance bad debt not collected

Nye County officials approved the Pahrump ambulance unpaid medical debt write-offs amid renewed questions about ambulance service privatization.

Out of $597,211 that was billed by the town of Pahrump ambulance from July through September 2015, $376,957 was recommended for write off or sent to collections, according to the most recent data.

Michael Sullivan, Pahrump finance director, said he had requested Nye County Manager Pam Webster assign Nye County Emergency Medical Services Director Vance Payne to work with Fire Chief Scott Lewis to develop the acceptable level of services for privatizing the ambulance service.

“I think the assignment needs to involve both Vance Payne and the fire chief from the public safety standpoint. I can’t make recommendations on those items. I don’t have control of either of those two department heads,” Sullivan said during the Nye County board of commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

Between October 2014 and June 2015, the town wasn’t able to collect $1,160,853, according to the records. Pahrump was able to write off only $347,539 or 63 percent out of the $553,299 that was billed before June 2015.

“From the financial standpoint, the numbers speak for themselves in the audit and the conversion of ambulance service has a lot of different public safety issues that are unrelated to the numbers, but clearly, the audit numbers show those losses. The transport service is the component that has to be looked at. Privatizing is a generic term. (It) does not in my mind include response for 911. So we need to separate those two. And thirdly, the use of a private ambulance service for transportations are really a hospital-related issue. Not the town’s (issue),” he said.

The bill usually consists of a flat rate based on level of service, mileage and additional special meds. Ambulance rates include $650 for basic life support, $675 for intermediate life support and $700 for advanced life support and $18 per mile, Sullivan said.

Commissioner Donna Cox said the ambulance should have been privatized a long time ago.

“I don’t think we can continue to keep going on like this. We need to move forward, even if we have to put together two citizens to sit down with some of these department heads and get the figures together. I’d like to see something really, really fast. I’d be willing to sit down with them also,” she said.

Commissioners asked Sullivan to provide an update on the possibility of privatizing ambulance service when the issue is brought up next time.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77.

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