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City Council allocates cash to Oxford Health Systems ambulance service

Council action pays for service pending Medicare, Medicaid approval

Oxford Council 2020
Shown at the 2020 swearing-in of the Oxford City Council are, left to right, council members Phil Gardner, Chris Spurlin, Charlotte Hubbard, Circuit Judge Shannon Page (in blue mask), and council members Mike Henderson and Steven Waits.

OXFORD — The city made its first appropriation to support its fledgling ambulance service during a City Council meeting Monday morning. 

According to the resolution, the Health Care Authority of the City of Oxford will receive up to $380,000 to provide health care service to Oxford residents and the surrounding area, authorized as needed by Mayor Alton Craft and paid from the city general fund.

Tom Dixon, CEO of the authority, said after the meeting that Medicare and Medicaid have yet to begin paying for work performed by the paramedic service, an issue predicted when the authority was formed earlier this year. 

“It’s a minute fraction of the requests prior services have asked for, and it is also a very minute fraction of what you might see in any other location where there’s an ambulance provider or a health care provider and a government entity is paying a subsidy,” Dixon said. 

Paperwork for the service was filed in about a week, Dixon said, which would usually be completed over a year or more, with financing secured ahead of time for the payment lag. Medicare and Medicaid will make retroactive payments for work performed and not paid during the application process, but paramedic service will still cost money in the meantime. 

Council President Chris Spurlin noted that the amount is an annual appropriation but is likely to be reduced over time. 

During the meeting, the City Council also:

— Took the oath of office as a group, administered by Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Shannon Page, in the final step of municipal elections that began last month. Craft took the oath separately, with Spurlin administering. 

— Reelected Spurlin and Councilman Steven Waits as council president and president pro tempore, and reappointed council members Charlotte Hubbard and Phil Gardner as council liaisons to the city Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Department, respectively. 

— Reappointed Ron Allen as city attorney. 

— Appointed Councilman Mike Henderson to the board of the Oxford Health Care Authority, citing his extensive financial experience as a banker. Henderson will take the place of Daniel Robertson, who resigned from the board due to a conflict of interest. 

— Updated language in the city code that sets meetings at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday each month, which city clerk Alan Atkinson said had previously been vaguely worded. The amendment also added a three-minute limit to public comments. 

— Added AOD Federal Credit Union to the list of city depositories. 

— Scheduled a public hearing for the Nov. 24 council meeting to consider a request from Randy Cobb of Cobb’s Automotive Machine Shop to rezone property on Lake Street from residential to general business.