The village of Brookfield is hoping it will be able to boost the revenue it collects from ambulance/paramedic fees by about 44 percent annually through a federal program now available to Illinois municipalities via legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2019.
Fire Chief Jim Adams on Aug. 24 asked village trustees to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to allow Brookfield to participate in the Ground Emergency Medical Transportation (GEMT) program beginning in 2021.
GEMT is a federally funded Medicaid program that has been around for years, said Adams, but was introduced to Illinois via legislation last year. The program allows municipalities an opportunity to collect an additional Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance services, above and beyond what the state reimburses the village for Medicaid claims.
“It’s been used and popular in the western United States for years,” Adams told trustees last week, “allowing departments to receive the additional funding that the federal government would just keep within their program.”
Adams, when he was fire chief in Westchester, enrolled that village into the program in 2019. Westchester has been able to generate additional ambulance fee revenue through GEMT this year.
Anytime Brookfield paramedics transport a patient to the hospital via ambulance, the department bills for either Advance Life Support ($1,400) or Basic Life Support ($1,000).
For Medicaid patients, the village submits a claim to the state program, which reimburses the village about $142 per claim for Basic Life Support and about $222 for Advanced Life Support.
In the past, there was no other way to recoup any more fees from Medicaid patients. The GEMT program will allow the village to submit the balance of the bill – for an Advanced Life Support Call that would amount to about $1,777.
The village and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will split that balance, meaning for a Medicaid patient receiving Advanced Life Support services, the village will collect about $589 in additional Medicaid reimbursement, or about $429 for Basic Life Support.
The village also collects revenue for ambulance services through private insurers and Medicare. Annually, in recent years, the village has collected between $375,000 and about $480,000 in total ambulance fees.
According to Adams, by participating in the GEMT program, Brookfield can expect to generate an additional $175,000 annually in ambulance fee revenue.
“As a result of participating in the GEMT program, the fire department will be able to recover additional funding to significantly increase our ambulance revenue without any effect on Brookfield residents,” Adams said in a memo to the village board about the program.
Village trustees are expected to approve the intergovernmental agreement to participate in the GEMT program at their Sept. 14 meeting.
“Any penny is more than we’re getting now,” said Trustee Edward Cote. “And, if there’s no cost to get into it, it’s a no-brainer.”