Brevard County, Fla. officials reported this week plans to write off $6.6 million for emergency medical service transports to area hospitals from the budget year ended Sept. 30, 2013. 

The county commonly waits up to a year before choosing to write off unpaid ambulance bills, which are often not paid by people who don’t have health insurance, interim Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer said. As many as five attempts are made to collect by the county’s billing company and collection agency before accounts are written off.

Schollmeyer told Florida Today that commissioners approved writing off the $6.6 million in delinquencies because it doesn’t want to get involved in “loan shark” tactics to get people to pay. 

"If you can't pay, you can't pay. You're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's one of those things. We don't want to strong-arm people,” he said. "Our primary job and our primary concern is to take the sick and injured to the hospital." 

The base rate for an ambulance call for advanced life support such as a heart attack is $627. The basic support call for something such as a fall with minor injuries is $501.

The plan to write off the unpaid bills does not prevent the county from continuing to pursue the unpaid money.

The writeoffs on unpaid EMS bills totaled $5.73 million for the budget year ended Sept. 30, 2012.

  

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