POINT PLEASANT — Just days before the county will vote on an EMS operating levy, the Ambulance Authority Board has appointed a new director.
Dylan Handley, of Point Pleasant, will be the new EMS director, effective Dec. 1, taking over for Chuck Blake who officially retires on Nov. 30.
Handley, who attended Marshall University, has worked in EMS for 19 years and has been a paramedic since 2001. He has a background in the fire service as incident command and is also a critical care paramedic who flew for several years with Healthnet aeromedical services.
“I look forward to help growing EMS in Mason County and continuing to make sure our community receives high quality pre-hospital care by highly trained professionals with the tools to save lives,” Handley said.
Handley is also a member of the EMS levy committee and has been a strong advocate for passing the ballot issue which voters will decide on Nov. 8.
The levy has received official endorsements from the Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Valley Hospital and the Point Pleasant Rotary Club, as well as from several other businesses and organizations. Handley said the levy campaign efforts were all made possible through donations from numerous businesses and individuals.
The levy resolution passed by the Mason County Commission states it will generate $766,691 annually, which means it will raise a total of $3.8 million over the course of its five-year term. If passed, the levy would go into effect July 1, 2017 and expire on July 1, 2021. At least 60 percent of all votes cast will be needed to approve the levy. If the levy fails, the future of Mason County EMS is questionable and could possibly be gone. Though it’s also possible a private ambulance company could come into the county to take up the slack if the levy fails, these companies are “for profit” and if there’s no money to be made, it’s uncertain if these entities would stay.
Mason County EMS makes its money from billing Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance for services. Basically, Mason County EMS is at the mercy of insurance companies and, those agencies are operating differently than before, particularly when it comes to transporting dialysis patients which did bring in a significant amount of revenue.
As previously reported, when breaking down these numbers for the individual taxpayer, the EMS levy committee members say, a homeowner in Mason County who has a home with an appraised value of $100,000, would have their taxes raise $30 a year if the levy passes. Homeowners with homes appraised at $50,000 would see taxes raise $15 per year; homeowners with homes appraised at $150,000 would see taxes raise $45 a year.
If the EMS levy passes, it would also result in zero-balance billing. This means the ambulance service is first billed to Medicare, Medicaid and/or private insurance. The patient is not billed for anything not covered by Medicare, Medicaid and/or private insurance. This means a patient will have a “zero balance” and will owe nothing for services after any sort of payment by Medicare, Medicaid and/or or insurance, even if these entities only pay a portion of the bill for services.
Also, if the levy passes, Mason County residents who currently pay no taxes under the Homestead Exemption Act, will not pay any additional taxes. If they currently pay some property taxes, they will pay the levy rate only on the assessed value of their property which exceeds the $20,000 exemption.
EMS levy’s are common though Mason County is one of only a handful of counties in West Virginia which doesn’t have one.
“Mason County has seen some very difficult times as of late due to Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance reduction in reimbursement rates and I’m confident that the community sees the need and will vote yes for EMS on Tuesday so that we will continue to be here when needed,” Handley said. “I would welcome anyone with questions to reach out. We are here for you.”
Handley can be reached at 304-593-2271 or at the Mason County EMS levy Facebook page.
Handley resides in Point Pleasant with wife Jennifer and their three children, Kirsten, Caleb and Kaitlyn.
(Editor’s note: Though Handley is the nephew of Rick Handley, who is on the Ambulance Authority Board, Rick recused himself from the selection committee process and the vote on the new director.)
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.