Local News

Homewood to receive federal aid to fill ambulance funding gap

The village of Homewood will be provided federal funds to make up for a funding gap that comes out of transporting uninsured Medicaid and other patients by ambulance.

That’s thanks to an intergovernmental agreement the board approved Sept. 14 at the village’s regular meeting. Because of the agreement, the village could be reimbursed $200,000 starting April 2022.

The reimbursements will be made possible by a program called Ground Emergency Medical Transportation Services (GEMT), which is overseen by the state. It provides supplemental payments to publicly owned or operated GEMT providers.

An average Medicaid payment is $120 per transport, according to a village document, noting Medicaid payment rates are often 70% less than the cost of providing those services. Currently, the state reimburses municipalities like Homewood a set amount for those transports, regardless of the actual cost of services. The agreement will allow the village to use federal dollars to pay the difference between the set amount and the actual costs incurred.

Congress passed a law four years ago allowing the reimbursement because of the added expenses and limited amount of money coming in from Medicare and Medicaid, according to Fire Chief Bob Grabowski. The law allows local first responders and healthcare providers to utilize the program nationwide.

“It’ll definitely be additional revenue for the village but it’s basically across the country, all the fire departments, all the ambulances, hospitals, and everyone who takes care of Medicare and Medicaid patients; (the agencies) will be able to get the additional revenue from the government they didn’t get before,” he said.

The board also approved a budget amendment paying the village of Thornton its share of increased tax proceeds generated by Menards at 17545 Halsted St.

Homewood and Thornton entered into a sales tax sharing agreement to accommodate the 2017 expansion of Menards. Thornton agreed to vacate the portion of Brown Derby Road that allowed Menards to “expand its development footprint,” according to a village document.

Though Homewood budgeted for a projected amount of $66,673 as Thornton’s share, sales taxes have been doing better. Thornton will be receiving an additional $29,000.

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