Knoxville Fire Department ambulances are often summoned to the city’s nursing homes and health care facilities, to take patients to the hospital for routine matters; the city hasn’t been able to receive any compensation for this service, but a change in policy is coming.

The city council voted Monday night to accept an agreement with Accura Healthcare to receive compensation for these non-emergency ambulance runs. These trips tie up firefighters and cost the city money; and since they don’t qualify as emergencies, they can’t be billed to private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

The deal with Accura sets up a schedule of payments for these types of ambulance transports; Knoxville City Manager Aaron Adams tells KNIA/KRLS News Accura was not only willing to enter into such an agreement, but considers them routine.

“They were surprised we didn’t have this agreement already, because other cities do require this; and so we were actually able to use a very similar agreement to what they’ve used with some of the other metro cities,” Adams says. “This was not a surprise to them, this is something they actually expect; and so we do hope to be able to use that model and to take it to some of the other similar providers here in the community.”

Adams says other providers have the option of calling in a HIRTA bus or using their own transportation if they prefer not to enter into such an agreement with Knoxville.

And he says the city wants to make it clear that ambulances can and should be called when a true emergency occurs.