According to documents obtained by Shadowproof, St. Louis “anticipates selection of an apparent successful proposer at the beginning of October 2015.” A contract could go into effect approximately six weeks after the selection, following a review by the County Council. The document, titled “Answers to Proposers Questions,” was filed in August of this year and provides greater detail into an opaque bidding process for a lucrative contract to provide medical services to over 1,000 inmates in St. Louis. It also serves as a window into the serious and expensive healthcare needs currently facing the county. … The county explains it is exploring privatization for “cost containment, quality control, and the deployment of universally accepted optimum performance standards for the delivery of corrections medicine as identified by the NCCHC and ACA.” The county says it is open to evaluating all “cost saving pricing models,” such as shared or capped risk models.
Supporters and foes of outsourcing municipal emergency medical services are both laying claim to victory in an order handed down Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court. … The latest flash point over the August contract that turned emergency medical transportation over to privately-owned Gateway Ambulance is a consent order signed Monday by Circuit Court Judge Tom W. DePriest. University City in the decree agreed to “comply with the language” of the collective bargaining contract it signed with the firefighters union in April. Becker says the contract stipulates that city fire stations be continuously staffed by a minimum of 11 personnel. …
University City council votes down change to ambulance contract
Source: Diana Barr, St. Louis Business Journal, September 25, 2015
University City’s City Council on Thursday voted against an amendment to the city’s contract with a private ambulance service, a deal that came under fire even before it was signed in August. The council voted 5-2 against a bill that called for the private ambulance service, Louisville, Kentucky-based Gateway Ambulance, to staff each ambulance with two paramedics rather than one, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. …
U. City residents outraged over ambulance response
Source: Christina Coleman, KSDK, September 25, 2015
Families are outraged after it took about 15 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a 911 call for a man having a heart attack. Some University City residents say it’s a sign that the city should have never outsourced their EMS service. University City Councilwoman Paulette Carr says on the night of September 15, at 7:41p.m. University City dispatch called Gateway dispatch requesting a backup ambulance for possible heart attack. Councilwoman Carr says Gateway Ambulance didn’t show up to transport the waiting patient until 7:56pm. … Mayor Welsch says she can’t comment on what mistake was made, or who made it, and Gateway has not responded to NewsChannel 5’s phone calls on the delayed response.
University City EMS to remain privatized, for now
Source: Dan Greenwald, KMOV, September 24, 2015
Despite concerns over response times, University City officials decided not to make changes to the city’s EMS service. The move came after News 4 learned at an employee with the ambulance service used by the city was disciplined after it took 15 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a heart attack call. University City recently outsourced it’s EMS services to Gateway Ambulance.
Foes ramp up challenges as University City prepares to roll out private ambulance service
Source: Steve Giegerich, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 21, 2015
Lingering resentment over a City Council decision to outsource ambulance service continues to percolate here, with the union representing city firefighters mounting a legal challenge, and a residents’ group considering a recall effort to target Mayor Shelley Welsch. … The city promises that no firefighters will lose their jobs. University City will not, however, replace at least 10 fire department employees lost through retirement or other circumstances. Opponents of the move charge that the mayor, a majority of council members and City Manager Lehman Walker purposefully limited public input by waiting until the last minute to announce the deal with Gateway. Residents learned of the contract on July 30. The following Monday, nearly 150 residents showed up to voice mostly objections at a contentious four-hour City Council meeting. It concluded with a 5-2 vote approving the Gateway pact.
City Manager Troy Schulte has signed a 16-month contract with a private ambulance billing company to assist city employees with that function. The move follows local labor’s successful challenge to the Kansas City Council’s decision to completely privatize the city’s emergency medical billing. The council voted 7-4 on June 19 to authorize the fire chief to enter into a five-year contract with Advanced Data Processing, a subsidiary of Intermedix Corp. Supporters said most cities outsource this function and the 16 city employees in that division would be offered other jobs. … But opponents said it was unfair to the city employees and cited several cities that had problems with Intermedix’s customer service. … Schulte can approve a contract below $300,000 without council authorization. It took effect Monday and runs through Dec. 31, 2015, at a cost not to exceed $17,969 per month.
Kansas City Council repeals move to privatize ambulance billing
Source: Lynn Horsley, Kansas City Star, August 28, 2014
The Kansas City Council voted unanimously Thursday to repeal its controversial earlier decision to privatize ambulance billing. The council took that action in response to petitions with 8,000 signatures opposing the outsourcing of city jobs. …
Petitions sufficient to challenge KC ambulance billing outsourcing
Source: Lynn Horsley, Kansas City Star, August 26, 2014
A group opposed to the Kansas City Council’s decision to outsource ambulance billing has gathered sufficient petition signatures to force a referendum. … The City Council voted 7-4 on June 19 to privatize Kansas City’s medical billing for ambulance calls, a function currently handled by Fire Department employees. The council authorized the fire chief to enter into a five-year contract with Advanced Data Processing Inc., a subsidiary of Intermedix Corp. … But opponents cited several cities that had serious problems with Intermedix’s customer service and failure to meet collections. They also objected to privatizing good-paying municipal jobs….
Rally held to fight ambulance billing outsourcing
Source: KCTV, July 26, 2014
Some city residents and leaders are trying to block a plan to outsource Kansas City’s ambulance billing. Their method Saturday was a rally downtown. … Intermedix is the largest ambulance billing company in the nation. They’re accused of overbilling, under billing and sometimes not billing ambulance riders in Dallas, Memphis and several other cities. There have also been issues surrounding identity theft.Robert Patrick, the union’s president, says the contract the city signed with the company just doesn’t seem right. …If they get the signatures, the city council could repeal the ordinance or force the city to take the ordinance to the public for a vote….
Councilman blasts plan to privatize KC ambulance billing / John Sharp says company had problems with contract in Dallas
Source: Micheal Mahoney, KMBC, June 18, 2014
On the eve of a vote to change ambulance billing services in Kansas City, the proposal is coming under fire. Kansas City Councilman John Sharp said the idea isn’t just a bad one, he thinks the city wants to use the wrong company. City leaders are considering letting a private company, Advanced Data Processing, take over billing for ambulance services. Kansas City Mayor Sly James is a big backer of the plan. … Sharp said Advanced Data Processing had problems during its contract in Dallas. The firm resigned as the city was looking for a new vendor. Sharp said he’s heard critical reports from other cities, too. … Sharp said he doesn’t buy the company’s claims. He also said he thinks the proposed contract is tilted against the city. “They promised us they’d collect about $2 million more a year. Put it in the contract,” he said. “The contract lets them collect less than they’re collecting now with no penalty. What kind of deal is that?” …
An increase in the Missouri’s Medicaid caseload had legislators questioning representatives from the department of social services in a Tuesday hearing. … The department’s new enrollment system, the Missouri Eligibility Determination Enrollment System (MEDES), started Jan. 1, 2015, processing Medicaid applications under new standards, Kinkade said. MEDES was not fully developed when made public, though. EngagePoint, a Florida firm, was awarded a $148 million bid in 2013 to modify Curam, an IBM software, to meet the department’s Medicaid application needs. As MEDES rolled out this year, EngagePoint was still developing the system, which created inefficiencies, Kinkade said. … This slowed down the application process, creating a backlog. In April, he said the amount of pending applications was approximately 55,000 — more than double the average rate for the time of year at 23,000 pending applications. … Approximately 300 positions in the social services department have been eliminated since 2013, Kinkade said, as a result of increased implementation of new technologies for MEDES.
American Medical Response representatives said they would study Windsor Ambulance District call volume and finances to determine whether contracting to serve Windsor is feasible. Johnson County Ambulance District is among entities that have filled in since the Windsor district discontinued service. Paul Lininger, AMR operations manager for Independence and the South Platte County Ambulance District, and Jason Jenkins, AMR operations manager for the Kansas City metro area, met with the ambulance board Monday at Windsor City Hall Annex. Winsdor city officials and county commissioners in Johnson, Pettis, Benton and Henry counties appointed new ambulance board members last month. The last board member and operations director resigned and shut down the ambulance service June 1 due to financial and staffing issues. The board will determine the fate of the district, which serves the Jefferson Township in southern Johnson County, Windsor and parts of Pettis, Henry and Benton counties.
Source: School Bus Fleet, April 30, 2015
First Student will continue longtime relationships with school districts in Pennsylvania and Missouri through new contracts, and will replace one district’s fleet with alternative-fueled buses. The Council Rock School District in Newtown, Pennsylvania, recently approved a new contract with First Student to provide transportation services for the next seven years with new propane autogas-powered buses, beginning with the 2015-16 school year. …. Meanwhile, two school districts in Missouri have partnered with First Student to provide student transportation for more than 30 years, and that partnership will continue for the 2015-16 school year and beyond. Both Park Hill School District in Kansas City and Sedalia School District 200 in Sedalia have awarded new five-year contracts to the company. ….
…At least 19 states have passed laws limiting municipal and community broadband projects, typically at the behest of big internet service providers and their trade groups. The legislation ranges from outright bans to laws that limit public broadband to small towns or places where there’s no other high-speed service available. The Federal Communications Commission may soon invalidate these laws, but not if Republicans in Congress can stop it. In July, GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee inserted into an appropriations bill an amendment that would strip the FCC of its authority over state municipal broadband regulations. Some Republicans have branded municipal broadband as a form of socialism, because it uses public funds to compete with the private sector. They also say that local governments aren’t tech-savvy enough to build and maintain their own networks. …
….Although Blackburn doesn’t talk much about it, the Tennessee town of Chattanooga just so happens to host the nation’s largest and most successful municipal broadband network. Chattanooga’s power utility (and now internet provider) offers internet service to 160,000 households at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second—10 to 100 times faster than what’s available in most of the country—at a mere $70 a month…..
NPR and ProPublica have been reporting about nonprofit hospitals that seize the wages of lower-income and working-class patients. Now, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says hospitals could be breaking the law by suing these patients and docking their pay. And he wants some answers.
NPR and ProPublica looked across six states, and in each, we found nonprofit hospitals suing hundreds of their patients. One hospital in particular jumped out — Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Mo. Thousands of patients a year are getting their paychecks docked by the hospital and its debt collection arm.
One family we interviewed in our story has been getting their wages seized for nearly 10 years, but still owes $25,000 and feels trapped — in part because Heartland is charging 9 percent interest on that debt….
When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients
Source: Chris Arnold, Paul Kiel, NPR and ProPublica, December 19, 2014
…NPR and ProPublica have been investigating the increase in so-called “wage garnishment” by credit card and other companies. For this story, we looked specifically at nonprofit hospitals and found the practice widespread in five different states around the country.
Nonprofit hospitals get huge tax breaks — they are considered charities and therefore don’t pay federal or state income tax or local property tax. In exchange, they are obligated to provide financial assistance or “charity care” to lower-income patients.
Some nonprofit hospitals around the country don’t ever seize their patients’ wages. Some do so only in very rare cases. But others sue hundreds of patients every year. Heartland, which is in the process of changing its name to Mosaic Life Care, seizes more money from patients than any other hospital in Missouri. From 2009 through 2013, the hospital’s debt collection arm garnished the wages of about 6,000 people, according to a ProPublica analysis of state court data….
From the blog post:
By now, you’ve probably heard: our public water systems are under threat. As federal funding for public water infrastructure dries up, global water corporations like Suez and Veolia are rushing to offer themselves as “solutions” to fill the void. But their false promises gloss over the dismal track record of private water corporations: rate hikes, environmental degradation, labor abuses, and political interference.
But the report we just released with Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) — “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water”– finds that U.S. cities are increasingly rejecting water privatization and taking back public control of their public water. The report draws from interviews with dozens of public officials, data about water remunicipalizations from more than 100 cities globally, and Freedom of Information Act Requests. Its author, Emanuele Lobina, is a Principal Lecturer in the University of Greenwich, UK, Business School and a leading analyst with PSIRU focused on the impact of privatization and liberalization on public services, especially water.
The report details how the private water industry relies on political interference — including lobbying, non-transparent dealings, political contributions, and revolving doors — and misleading PR to expand its market in the U.S.
And it cites specific examples of the failure of private water deals and the growing grassroots movement to take public systems back (i.e. remunicipalize). Here’s a sneak peek at some of the details the report reveals:
• Since 2003, more than 30 U.S. municipalities, including major cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis, have taken back control of their water systems from privateers like Suez (known as United Water in the U.S.) and Veolia.
• In cities like St. Louis, MO, and Akron, OH, a groundswell of public opposition based on the private water industry’s track record of abuse blocked proposed contracts.
• Water remunicipalization in the U.S. is part of a global trend, with more than 100 cases globally in the last two decades.
• In many cases, cities have saved millions of dollars after remunicipalizing; Paris, for instance, saved $46 million in the first year after terminating its contract with Veolia.
It was not the rescue plan supporters of Cottonwood Residential Treatment Center had in any way hoped for. Employees say a new state plan to privatize and restructure the youth psychiatric facility may be better than a previous one to shut it down. But many suspect the cost-cutting plan will leave children and youth without appropriate treatment. This week, more than 90 employees at the facility in Cape Girardeau, Mo., began to digest a 17-page presentation released by the Department of Mental Health. It detailed Cottonwood’s planned transition from a state-owned facility to one run by Community Counseling Center, a state contracted agency in the region that currently provides behavioral health services and referrals. … But employees — most of whom expect to lose their jobs — said they are devastated for themselves and for the children. The restructuring proposes cutting the residential center’s capacity by half while increasing home-based options. … Under the plan, all of the facility’s employees will lose their jobs. Some with longer tenure will be given priority to fill jobs at other state facilities. Others will be encouraged to apply for jobs at the private facility, though it appears pay and benefits are lower. Some employees are even being encouraged — by Schafer — to open their homes to young patients and work as “professional parents” who are paid a daily rate to care for the children as they receive outpatient therapies. …