Riverside’s village board on July 6 voted to switch the firm it uses to bill insurance companies and Medicare for ambulance services, awarding a five-year contract to Paramedic Services of Illinois (PSI).

PSI takes over from Texas-based Municipal Collection Services Inc., which did not respond to a request for proposals issued by the village earlier this year. MCSI has done Riverside’s ambulance billing and collection services for the past three years, according to Riverside Finance Director Karin Johns.

According to the terms of the new contract, PSI will be paid a fee of 4 percent of all payments collected during the first three years of the contract and 4.5 percent of all fees collected in the fourth and fifth years of the deal.

Revenue from ambulance fees is not entirely predictable and has risen in each of the past three years.

According to figures provided by Johns, the village collected $230,195 in 2016 in ambulance fees from both private insurers and Medicare. That figure does not include the fees collected by the billing firm.

MCSI received 4.99 percent of the total revenue they collected on behalf of Riverside, meaning their cut was about $12,000 in 2016. 

PSI beat out five other firms that replied to the village’s request for proposals. Public Safety Services Inc. (PSSI), which provides Riverside’s paramedic services, was one of the firms bidding for the work. In the end, rival PSI, which provides paramedics in North Riverside, won the day.

PSSI will remain Riverside’s paramedic service provider.

“PSI had the lowest service fees and excellent reviews,” said Johns, who added that the village believes PSI will be “more aggressive in going after payments.”

Fire Chief Matthew Buckley, who worked with the finance department on the request for proposals, said the village’s procedure for ambulance billing would not be changing.

According to Buckley, the billing firm will invoice the patient’s insurance company or Medicare, which will submit a payment to the firm. Even if the insurance company or Medicare doesn’t agree to pay the entire amount, there’s no attempt to collect the difference from patients.

“At that point, it’s a wash,” Buckley said. “We don’t go after patients for that money.”

The ambulance fees collected by the village helps pay for the paramedic services provided by PSSI. In 2017, the village budgeted $450,613 for paramedic services.

PSSI has provided paramedic services for the village of Riverside since 1996.