Chesterton Tribune



Hospital and Commissioners agree to reduce cost of ambulance contract

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Porter County will spend $300,000 less per year on ambulance service after the Board of Commissioners agreed 3-0 Tuesday to amend the contract it has with Porter Regional Hospital.

The Commissioners in November 2014 extended the contract for five years at a cost of $750,000 annually. Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said on Tuesday that Hospital officials reached out a few months ago to collaborate further on the service and ultimately decided to reduce the amount to $450,000 per year and even more costs savings are possible in a new contract that will be coming in the next six to twelve months.

“There has been a lot of discussions and a lot of information shared with us on how our whole ambulance and dispatching works,” Good said. “With knowing the direction we are heading in, some of the things will be changing in the future, nothing significant, but basically between the (Commissioners) and Porter Hospital I think it was a good opportunity to relook at where we stand as of today.”

The ambulance contract will continue to provide ambulance service to the unincorporated areas and serve as back up for the municipalities. County Attorney Scott McClure said the amendment will clearly state the agreement as a “Status 3” which means that the Hospital agrees to have no less than three ambulances serving the county at all times.

Normally the number of ambulances would be higher than three, McClure said, but the municipalities will serve as backup. He clarified that Status 3 doesn’t mean only three ambulances will be serving the County; that’s just the minimum.

The amendment keeps all the terms of the current contract, McClure added.

Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, said he thinks this new measure will allow better service because it is more clear what is required in the contract. Fellow Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, added that it is very important to her district which is all unincorporated except for the smaller towns of Kouts and Hebron.

“There is a lot of ground to cover,” she said.

Good and McClure lauded the Hospital on being “extremely forthcoming and professional.”

“I can’t say enough about how Porter Hospital approached this. I think they were very positive, productive and out of the meetings came a lot of good for Porter County,” Good said.

The Hospital and the County will work on a new contract that will be modified for the next component of the 800-megahertz upgrade to the 911 Communication dispatch system, Good said. Financial advisors Umbaugh & Associates will look over what monies cities, towns and townships receive from the state in 911 revenue so the Commissioners can have a better idea of what they will have to spend for new radios.

“It’s a big deal. There are a lot of moving parts. We are trying to break it down and put it back together in a fashion that makes sense for everybody and also makes sense that you can manage it,” said Good.

Over the last five years, the County had been paying the ambulance contract with the proceeds from the 2007 sale of the County hospital. Payment was changed over last year to use cumulative capital development (CCD) funds as the hospital sale proceeds were invested into a charitable non-profit foundation.

County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said however that the state cut the County’s CCD funds this year to $223,000 and the Commissioners will have to decide with the County Council where additional funding will come from.

Worker’s comp insurance

Meanwhile, the Commissioners look to save about $13,000 in its worker’s comp, property, casualty and auto insurance renewal, starting April 10.

Reporting on insurance options was Charlie Renie, vice president of account management at KBIC Consulting, which the Commissioners hired in March to be a third-party advisor in hopes of finding lower premiums.

Renie said the County’s three-year loss history as far as the worker’s comp loss is about a 70 percent loss ratio, or for every dollar paid to the insurance company, the insurance company is paying out about 70 cents. Ideally, the ratio insurance companies look for is about 40 percent, Renie said.

“We looked at the options that were available. Our recommendation to the County is to enact a simple universal risk management plan across the different divisions,” Renie said.

The targeted costs for the current contract is $590,500. Renie said.

Working with Anton Insurance on options for renewal, Renie said the current provider BITCO Insurance was looked at and a self-funding option was presented by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services.

BITCO has offered a renewal of $577,000 for a light duty plan, which Renie felt was the better-suited plan for the County and made it his recommendation. He said his company will work with Anton Insurance to see that there is a formal scope of services.

Good said seeing a savings for this year is “starting a move in the right direction.”

Blaney made the motion to renew with BITCO subject to review by McClure. It passed by unanimous vote of 3-0.

With different renewal dates between the worker’s comp and other insurance, Renie recommended having a common renewal date. Good said that is the Board’s preference and Jan. 1 should be the renewal date. Moving it up would give the County Council a better idea of what the costs will look like during its budget hearings in the fall, McClure added.

Common renewal dates are something the Commissioners are also striving for in the employee health insurance agreements.




Posted 4/5/2017








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