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Kansas City Council Repeals Outsourcing Of Ambulance Billing

Faced with a successful referendum drive that could force the repeal of plans to outsource Kansas City ambulance service billing, the city council has repealed the plan.

The issue was contentious from the start. City Manager Troy Schulte proposed having a private company manage the billing because, he said, it would increase revenues from insurance collections while saving money. 

City employees offered their own suggestions and asked for six months to improve collections. They were promised jobs with no pay loss and the council voted to outsource ambulance billing to out-of-town company, Intermedix.

In the ensuing uproar, a petition drive collected 8,000 signatures demanding a city-wide referendum to repeal the plan.

Rather than put the referendum on the ballot, the council unanimously repealed its earlier decision Thursday.

Councilman Scott Wagner, who was among those votes to repeal it, said the reversal comes with a risk because next year's budget is based on the outsourcing figures.

“If we don't make what we want to make, guess what?" Wagner asked. "Something gets cut. And will the very same people who signed those petitions come to us and say, “Well wait a minute! Where are my code enforcement? Why didn't you plow the streets? Why didn't you do a hundred other things?”

Schulte proposed a compromise under which Intermedix would provide consulting, new software and training. It stalled in the hot debate over whether that would require a new request for proposals, but will be discussed later.

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