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Ambulance to start billing for responses

INDIAN LAKE - To cover 60 hours of paid staffing, the Indian Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corps will begin billing for call responses.

Ambulance corps Captain Michael Lamphear said staffing the service is getting more difficult as time goes on, "volunteers are hard to come by."

Because Indian Lake is more of a retirement community, said Lamphear, younger citizens who might have volunteered in the past are moving away for better job opportunities. Hamilton County saw a population drop from 5,379 to 4,836, more than 500 people, between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

The corps has been researching the switch to a billing system for six or seven months, said Lamphear, and they expect to finalize the contract in July.

Richard Leonard, a member of the ambulance corps board or directors who's worked on the billing policy, said, "Every patient will be billed, regardless of insurance status."

Leonard said the corps doesn't have a date to begin billing, and some preparatory work still has to be done before the new system is rolled out.

"We will not do the billing," Leonard said. The company they'll be signing with will handle the billing. The billing will have flexibility in its compassionate exemption policy, which will allow some bill forgiveness for taxpayers.

The exemption can be applied for by citizens with incomes below $100,000 a year, said Lamphear.

Because residents pay taxes to the town, and town funding provides most of the capital the ambulance corps needs to run, citizens can apply for the compassionate exemption on the grounds that they help pay for the ambulance.

The exemption will be reviewed case-by-case said Leonard, and the specifics of whether Blue Mountain Lake residents, who also pay town taxes, will be eligible for the exemption as they have a more local ambulance service.

Billing should at least cover the paid staff being brought on the begin work for the month of July, said Leonard. Hopefully, it will also help ease the tax burden, he said. "The numbers work out, but sometimes you don't know if it will work until you've tried it."

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