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  • Calling 911 in New Jersey Dangerous to Wallets

    Funny how New jersey has the highest ALS costs in the nation, and it's also the only stat that does not allow Fire Depts. to have ALS units.javascript:smilie('')


    Updated: 07-09-2003 09:58:14 AM

    Calling 911 in New Jersey Dangerous to Wallets

    ............
    JIM HOFFER
    Courtesy of ABC7

    In parts of New Jersey, the cost of paramedic service is so high -- some residents are afraid to dial 911. An Eyewitness News investigation has found those rates among the highest in the nation. Jim Hoffer has been looking into this. Here's his report.

    We decided to investigate after receiving a complaint from a woman whose paramedic bill was twice the cost of her emergency room treatment.

    What we found in New Jersey is one of the costliest emergency medical systems anywhere. And in the case of one company, failure to pay those steep costs could land you in court.

    Ellen Wall: "When you see them in the road, I'm telling you that's $1,600 going down the road."

    Teddy Zakrzewski: "They're overcharging people."

    Meet some of the patients of Monmouth County's only paramedic service.

    They all have one thing in common, a bill they received after calling 911, a bill they say is enough to give them a heart attack.

    Jim Hoffer: "Any medication?"
    Joyce Zakrzewski: "No. None."
    Jim Hoffer: "They checked your vitals."
    Joyce Zakrzewski: "That's all they did."

    Anthony Viscuso: "How the hell are we supposed to be paying this because it is a totally outrageous figure."

    Anthony Viscuso also got a bill from Monmouth Ocean Health Services. The company's critical care mobile unit transported him from the hospital, across the parking lot to another building for an MRI scan. The paramedics then drove him back to the hospital. About 500 feet each way. The bill: nearly $3,300. When he refused to pay, MONOC threatened to put a lien on his house.

    Anthony Viscuso: "I told my wife if I ever get sick, whether it be a stroke like I had, to throw me in the trunk of the car but don't ever call MONOC ambulance."

    Anthony Viscuso wasn't the only one threatened with a lawsuit by MONOC. Our investigation has found that in the past two-and-a-half years, the non-for-proft paramedic company has filed suit against more than 700 patients.

    Vince Robbins, CEO MONOC: "We need to get that money."

    MONOC'S chief executive officer says those being sued are a small fraction of its patients, a fraction who have repeatedly failed to pay their bills.

    Vince Robbins: "It's our money, we need to have it to finance our operation."

    MONOC says its average charge is around $1,300. The company claims that other services that charge less are heavily subsidized by town taxes. MONOC argues that mandatory caps on what it can charge medicare patients also forces it to shift costs to other customers or else go out of business.

    Vince Robbins: "We're a non-profit corporation, but that doesn't mean that we're for bankruptcy or that we can operate with expenses higher than our revenue. If that occurred, we wouldn't be here for about a year or two, we'd go bankrupt."

    But Maureen Glover, who had to defend herself in court for refusing to pay a bill that was twice the total cost of her emergency room treatment, accuses MONOC of price gouging.

    Maureen Glover, MONOC Patient: "Those were trained doctors and nurses doing many more tests that was only $855. I thought it was absurd to get a bill double that."

    Glover and others believe the high costs are the result of MONOC'S monopoly as the only paramedic company in Monmouth County.

    Jim Hoffer: "There's no competitor here." Vince Robbins: "No, there shouldn't be, that would only drive cost up and quality down."

    But in neighboring New York where competition thrives, costs are dramatically less. Compare Empress, a similar, non-subsidized paramedic company in Westchester County. For the same services, Empress charges $400 to $600.

    Jim Blumenstock, New Jersey Deputy Commissioner of Health: "The issue of, again, of pricing and cost is not a primary mission of this department."

    Jim Hoffer: "But your department commissioner set up monopolies, where there is no competition among these paramedic services. Yet there is no price control?"

    Jim Blumenstock: "There is not price control. And again, the system was created 30 years ago." Jim Hoffer: "But isn't that unfair to the patients?" Jim Blumenstock: "Well, as I said, we are taking a look at the situation as we speak."

    The New Jersey Department of Health is partly to blame for the high prices, according to a national health care research center.

    Penny Mohr, Center For Health Affairs: "If the state is granting them monopoly rights that they should also be responsible for setting caps on prices."

    Absent those caps or competition, many in New Jersey say they'll have to think twice before calling 911.

    Joyce Zokrzewski: "If it ever happens again or I need 911 I will be afraid to call because we can't afford to have them come."

    A few other New Jersey paramedic services charge about the same as MONOC, but have nowhere near the same number of lawsuits against patients.

    If you have any information about this story or any other that you'd like investigated, please call our Tip-Line at 877-TIP-NEWS.
    DKK
    Truck Man
    APFD


    "Above all, an assignment to a truck company should be considered a promotion."

    Chief John W. Mittendorf-1998

  • #2
    I had a little cardiac episode in Dec. 2002. I was transported ALS approx. 11 miles to the ED. The ins. co. paid most of the approx. $2500.00 bill. What they wouldn't pay was the $13.00 per mile they are trying to charge me. $13.00 per mile! When I called to complain, they explained that this $ was for the Vol. FD bus that took me to the ED. I flew off (I know, you're shocked) and explained to them that the Vol. FD doesn't get a blasted nickel from the hospital and threatened to report their fraud. I got a letter explaining that the person who told me this was new and it was actually for wear and tear for the MICU.

    They can kiss my butt for this money because I have still not paid it.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

    Comment


    • #3
      "It's our money, we need to have it to finance our operation."
      Dont know that sounds like someone is lineing there pockets if they charge that and still are in the red.

      "Well, as I said, we are taking a look at the situation as we speak."
      Yes cause there are cameras in his face,cameras gone his "inquiery" stops.

      I have an aunt in Cherry Hill and visting her I notice that
      NJ is packed to the gills the with stupid, the sick and the lazy so you would be a fool not to open a ambie company there. There should be some competition to drive down these costs cause that is crazy!<<<<< Bones Im mortified,a misspelling in my post?
      Last edited by dfdex1; 07-09-2003, 05:57 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        NJ is packed to the gills the with stupid,the sick and the lazy so you would be a fool not to open a ambie company there. There should be some compition to drive down these costs cause thats is crazy!
        Check the spelling...I guess you would fit right in.

        But seriously, MONOC is very good at billing people, such as they did George, and making it look as though it is to cover the expenses of the volunteer squad doing the transport. We have had many complaints of people getting a bill for our services and are constantly explaining to people that it's a bill from MONOC, not from the volunteer squad and the squad gets nothing for it.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

        Comment


        • #5
          I have always thought it was weird that fire departments can not provide paramedic services here. Who made that rule? I mean come on, how dumb.
          This space for rent

          Comment


          • #6
            That is absolutely rediculous!! I feel sorry for those poor folks in NJ.........

            You too George.........
            The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
            We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
            IACOJ

            Comment


            • #7
              That's ridiculous. I've been in EMS long time, got my start in New Jersey.

              My parents still live there, and it scares me that on their retirement income that they would be faced with a bill like that. Even though EMS collection rates really stink, (50% is good!!)there is no reason for 13.00 per mile, or a bill of $3,300.00 for a couple of trips across the parking lot.

              I wonder what their Medicare profile is like?

              Ed
              I.A.C.O.J.-Member

              "The only difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits".-Albert Einstien

              "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door"-Milton Berle

              Comment


              • #8
                You learn somethin new everyday

                I am a member of a department that has been ALS since 1973. I never knew the practice existed in N.J. that didnt allow Fire Department paramedics. What is the reasoning?
                IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KyleWickman
                  I have always thought it was weird that fire departments can not provide paramedic services here. Who made that rule? I mean come on, how dumb.
                  I didn't get treated by MONOC, it was St. Clare's Health System.

                  The New Jersey Department of Health made that rule over 20 years ago. The hospitals are a major lobby. The non-competition medic units generate revenue. Get the picture?

                  Here is a trivia question for you old time NJ folks: When it was proposed to start paramedic serice in NJ, who was the most vocal group against it?
                  PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    GUESSING GAME

                    Let me guess.. The Unions
                    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: GUESSING GAME

                      Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
                      Let me guess.. The Unions
                      Nope. Guess again.
                      PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thank god... Anyway, either the Volunteer asssociation or the Chiefs? The hospitals or private ambulance lobby would seem to easy.
                        IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here is a trivia question for you old time NJ folks: When it was proposed to start paramedic serice in NJ, who was the most vocal group against it?
                          I think it was the New Jersey State Vol. First Aid Association, or something like that.

                          Let me guess.. The Unions
                          I know my local union (IAFF 384), the NJ Professional Firefighters Union (PFANJ) and the IAFF all strongly support fire Dept. based ALS.
                          DKK
                          Truck Man
                          APFD


                          "Above all, an assignment to a truck company should be considered a promotion."

                          Chief John W. Mittendorf-1998

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
                            Thank god... Anyway, either the Volunteer asssociation or the Chiefs? The hospitals or private ambulance lobby would seem to easy.
                            Close enough. The volly squads had a cow. Remember the ambulace caravans around the statehouse in protest. After all, it wasn't about patient care, it was about them. This whole effort was led by the stone age NJ First Aid Council (who BTW, remains anti-ALS today).
                            PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Like I said before we have been ALS for THIRTY years.. I wouldnt want it any other way.
                              IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

                              Comment

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