HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- This week Hartselle's only ambulance service shut down. It marks the third such local EMS provider in Morgan County to close their doors in just the last year.
WHNT News 19 has followed this story for almost two years now after receiving reports from employees of those now defunct companies of missing paychecks and bounced checks.
All three of the failed companies have cited problems with Medicare and Medicaid payments. And that has become the industry’s so-called bread and butter. Not so much the car crashes or other emergencies you see on the nightly news, but the many non-emergency calls they must answer.
But in Madison County, the much larger not for profit HEMSI ambulance service has been able to fare much better.
HEMSI CEO Jon Howell says the organization processes 40,ooo medical claims a year and they do it all in-house unlike many smaller for profit services that must contract that processing to a third-party.
Howell says the ambulance business in generally is a tough one to get into due to not having any control on demand for the service they offer.
"We can't convince people today is a good day to go in a ride in an ambulance, we must respond to the calls for service when they come in," Howell says.
Hartselle is one of the locations in North Alabama where the ambulance services have gone belly up. Mayor Don Hall says he has explored several options, including the city buying their own ambulances, a move he described as very expensive.
He says another possibility may be the creation a county-wide EMS system, patterned after HEMSI. No specific plans are in the works, however, at this time.