Four ambulance companies vie for contract

By Catharin Shepard

Staff writer


Four ambulance companies want to provide emergency transportation services for Hoke residents, according to documents presented to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners Monday night.
The commission received the results of a request for proposals sent out earlier this year after the board members decided to consider contracting with a different company. Currently, Med1 is serving out the last month of its three-year contract with Hoke County.
Current provider Med1, former service provider American Medical Response (AMR), Cape Fear Valley and FirstHealth of the Carolinas all submitted proposals to provide the countys ambulance services.
Cape Fear Valleys proposal was the least expensive, asking for a $549,000-a-year subsidy for the three years of the contract, an advanced life support (ALS) base rate of $450, a basic life support (BLS) rate of $350 and an $11 charge for mileage. Cape Fear Valley proposed to have four ambulances with paramedics in the county and has an ambulance fleet standing in reserve. The company would have one fixed station and was the only company among the four to suggest having four substations throughout the county.
Med1s proposal asked for an $875,000 subsidy the first year of the contract, with an additional 5 percent increase or CPI in the second and third years. The proposed ALS base rate would be $450, the BLS base rate of $350 and an $11 charge for mileage. Med1 proposed to have four ambulances staffed with paramedics and three ambulances in reserve, with one fixed station.
FirstHealth of the Carolinas proposal asked for a $785,000 subsidy the first year, an $835,000 subsidy the second year and an $885,000 subsidy the third year. The proposed ALS base rate would be from $663.14-$857.68, the proposed BLS base rate would be between $512.74-$633.59 with a $13.30 mileage charge. FirstHealth proposed to have four ambulances staffed with paramedics and has an ambulance fleet standing in reserve, with one fixed station.
Former Hoke service provider American Medical Response (AMR)s proposal was the most expensive of the four submitted to the county. AMR asked for a $1.1 million subsidy the first year of the contract, a $1.13 million subsidy the second year and $1.16 million the third year. The company proposed an ALS base rate of $550, a BLS base rate of $450 and a $15 mileage rate. AMR would provide four ambulances staffed by paramedics and has an ambulance fleet standing in reserve, with one fixed station.
The county has paid Med1 a subsidy of $595,000 a year for the last three years, as well as paying mileage. The company returned each year requesting additional funding to offset what the company reported has become a nearly $3 million loss due to uncollectible bills from people who did not pay for their transport service. The Med1 contract with the county requires the company to provide emergency medical transport service to all people without regard to their ability to pay.
The four companies that submitted proposals were also the same ones that submitted proposals three years ago. Then, Med1s bid was the lowest. In 2011, FirstHealth proposed charging $600,000 for the first year, $650,000 the second year and $700,000 the third year with a mileage rate of $11.74. Cape Fear Valley EMS proposed $600,000 maximum for the three-year contract with an $11 mileage rate. AMR proposed charging $595,000 the first year with an increase in the second and third year of the contract and proposed a $19.25 mileage rate.
The commissioners tabled the discussion at the meeting Monday because County Manager Tim Johnson was out of town and the board wanted to speak with him as part of the selection process before moving forward.

Other business
In other business, the commissioners approved a four-item consent agenda including the lease of a new map copier for the Register of Deeds and a proposed purchase order cut-off by the finance office. The board heard proposals for the countys banking services and reports from the tax collector and tax assessor. The board held a closed session for the purposes of economic development.