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Thomaston writes off $91,000 in unpaid ambulance bills

By Beth A. Birmingham | Oct 18, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham The Thomaston Board of Selectmen at its Oct. 15 meeting. From left are Sandy Moore, Lee-Ann Upham, Bill Hahn, Chairman Peter Lammert, Interim Town Manager Kara George, and Recording Secretary Donna Culbertson.

Thomaston — At the request of EMS chief Amy Drinkwater, the Thomaston Board of Selectmen agreed Oct. 15 to write off unpaid ambulance bills.

The accumulated amount of $91,760.34 is from services dating from 2010 to 2017 that cannot be collected.

Drinkwater said the reports she received from T.G. Higgins Business Services, who the town has hired for billing services, indicated there have been no write-offs since 2010.

"These write-offs are for insurance that wasn't either processed on time, wasn't paid by patients, or insurance billed the patient and the patient didn't pay," she explained, adding she is currently working on the 2018 billing.

Drinkwater said going forward, she will review the billing monthly and bring any concerns to the board every three months in order to keep things in line.

The one-year contract Thomaston signed with T.G. Higgins indicates bills must be submitted within 14 days of service.

Selectman Lee-Ann Upham moved that the board write off the unpaid bills, with Selectman Bill Hahn seconding the motion.

"I'm not hesitant, just unhappy," he said.

"Agreed," Drinkwater said.

She said some of the billing issues included town errors and some included billing errors.

"If we don't put 'ready to bill' on it, it just sits there," Drinkwater said, adding, "It wasn't clear who was supposed to follow up."

Interim Town Manager Kara George commended Drinkwater on her organization and moving the department forward.

"This will give her a fresh slate," George said.

Drinkwater was also commended on her efforts of keeping the EMS budget on track, as it relates to assistance by Rockland EMS. Chairman Peter Lammert said of the $108,000 budgeted for that purpose to date only $1,000 has been used.

Drinkwater said that has a lot to do with the new method of signing up for shifts, which is done via computer. She said it is broken up a bit, so that someone can pick up a four-hour shift instead of the full 12 hours if desired.

Drinkwater, who is also on the St. George and South Thomaston EMS, was appointed to the part-time position in April after previous EMS Chief Rusty Barnard had resigned last year.


Thomaston writes off $91,000 in unpaid ambulance bills
Exterior and interior work is progressing at the former Lura Libby facility in Thomaston. Expected move-in of the town offices will be late December or early January. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Brooks Stevens, left, and Mike Mayo, representing the Thomaston 4th of July Committee, begin discussions on a new venue for the annual celebration during the Oct. 15 Board of Selectmen meeting. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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Comments (6)
Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Oct 22, 2019 07:44


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 20, 2019 07:45

Very informative and well written article. Thanks. :)

Posted by: Patricia Hubbard | Oct 20, 2019 06:32

It would have been ever so helpful to the reader, Beth, if you had referenced the piece you wrote on this subject on April 9, 2019. It definitely provides context to this announcement.

Posted by: Douglas E Collins | Oct 18, 2019 19:29

Beverly St Clair was a breath of fresh air.  I think you'll find out she was correct on many different issues. She was honest, hard working and not afraid to ask the tough questions.  Too bad a few scared unethical people ruined a good representative for the people.

I believe that many other issues (like this one) will be brought to light as time goes by.  I just hope we get unbiased reporting on issues going forward.

Posted by: Christopher Hedstrom | Oct 18, 2019 18:45

Thank you Miss Drinkwater for finding and correcting this issue. Let's also thank former select woman St Clair. EMS billing discrepancies was one of the many issues she brought up, and was chastised for.  Maybe we need a comprehensive audit for the town government.

Posted by: PETER LAMMERT | Oct 18, 2019 15:23

Beth, sincere thanks for all the years of reporting Thomaston news, pictures and other hometown events. Your factual style and sincerity in your writing was a boon for all those using both digital and print medias..I'll be looking forward to seeing you taking pictures at special events.

For all those in Thomaston and other towns who appreciated your work, Pete Lammert

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