City Considering Taking Ambulance Revenue Away From County Hospital

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BOONE, Iowa  --  For decades, the Boone County Hospital provided ambulance services for emergency calls in the city and county. Now, city leaders are looking at taking over those services.

"I guess what I'm hoping will happen is that there will be some public discourse about the situation," said Joe Smith, CEO of the county hospital.

The hospital could face problems, as the funding that accompanies the services would also be taken away.

"Rural hospitals aren't exactly rolling in money right now," said Smith.

This problem could get worse if the city council takes the hospital's key source of revenue: ambulance services for all emergency calls within city limits.

"Currently if somebody down the street in the city of Boone has a 911 emergency and they call the comm center, then the hospital runs on that call and we bill appropriately. We bill whatever their insurance happens to be. And if the city has a parallel service and they're taking care of the city of Boone, then they would get that call."

They would also get that money, which would put the hospital in a very difficult financial position.

"So that loss in revenue, we think, would probably get us from a situation of being about break-even to losing three or four hundred thousand dollars a year," said Smith.

Right now, the city is researching the idea to see how much revenue the takeover would create.

"Each year, city council, mayor, does a goal setting session with employees, myself, and we review city operations and look at things where we can improve, create efficiencies, cut expenses, increase revenue, things like that," said Boone City Council member Bill Skare.

But if the county hospital loses that key revenue source to the city, it will have to find a way to make up the difference.

"If we do have to levy more taxes at the county level to help fund the losses that we'll now have, the folks in the city pay those as well. Because a county tax is shared by everyone in the county, regardless of whether they live in the city of Boone or somewhere else," said Smith.

"I don't think it's lost upon the city council or the mayor that the hospital has an ability to levy a tax," said Skare.

The Boone City Administrator said the city council will discuss the idea further at an upcoming meeting.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.