Third-party billing for ambulance services in Riverhead to start May 1

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance will begin billing the auto insurance companies of people involved in motor vehicle accidents in Riverhead Town at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, according to Councilman John Dunleavy.

The Town Board has been discussing billing for ambulance service for several years, saying that many of the people involved in accidents within the town are not town residents and do not contribute toward ambulance services.

The town has a Riverhead Ambulance District tax that is paid thought the property taxes of residents within that district, which covers most of the town, except for the Wading River Fire District.

A public information meeting about the change was held Wednesday night at Town Hall, but Mr. Dunleavy said only one person attended who was not affiliated with the ambulance corps.

It has been advertised in a legal notice in the March 30 Riverhead News-Review, according to deputy town attorney Dan McCormick.

Riverhead will become the first ambulance corps on the East End to bill for service.

The Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance is also considering billing for ambulance service, but it is talking about doing so for all ambulance calls, not just auto accidents.

The FNVA has held several public information meetings on the proposal, which have been well attended, and at which the audience members seem to be in support of the idea.

According to Mr. McCormick, a company called Certified Ambulance Group of Rocky Hill, Conn. was selected by the town last year through a request for proposals process to handle the billing for the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance. The company will be compensated based on a percentage of ambulance bills, he said.

Although the Town Board is technically the commissioners of the ambulance district, the contract with Certified Ambulance Group is between them and the ambulance corps, Mr. McCormick said.

“The corps is acting as a fiduciary regarding ambulance billing revenue on behalf of the Town of Riverhead,” Mr. McCormick said.

“Every motor vehicle accident will generate a bill for service,” Mr. McCormick said. “That bill will be forward to the respective no fault insurance provider.”

State law requires that revenues generated from ambulance service be used to defray the costs of the ambulance district, and will be used to reduce the tax levy for ambulance services, Mr. McCormick said.

“If a driver doesn’t have automobile insurance, the town, on a case-by-case basis, and after billing the driver’s insurance multiple times, will decide in consultation with the ambulance corps and Certified Ambulance Group, as to whether or not to pursue the matter would be submitted for collection,” Mr. McCormick said.

“Under state law, motorists are legally obligated to carry no fault insurance,” he stressed. “So at best, it would be a rare instance where any of the parties would not have insurance coverages for motor vehicle accidents.”

Mr. McCormick said the ambulance corps is considering to have additional public meetings on the billing plan, particulary among the on the senior citizen population.

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