AMR: Staying put despite possible sale

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 1999

Competition between the two ambulance companies in Natchez has taken on a new twist as the parent company for American Medical Response announces plans to sell its healthcare operations.

The area supervisor for Med Express Ambulance Service said he thinks the competition between the two ambulance services has improved service in the Natchez area.

&uot;I worked in Natchez when there was only one ambulance service and the service was slower,&uot; said Paul Cangemi, Supervisor for Med Express Ambulance Service. &uot;Competition is definitely a benefit.&uot;

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Steve Shore, Director of Operations for American Medical Response, said that healthy competition with Med Express will continue despite news that AMR’s parent company, Laidlaw Inc., plans to sell AMR and its other healthcare subsidiaries.

Last week, Laidlaw Inc., the largest bus company in North America, announced plans to sell its healthcare subsidiaries – AMR and EmCare, a leading U.S. provider of physician practice management services in hospital emergency departments.

Shore said the announcement will not impact AMR&160;operations in Natchez and the surrounding area.

&uot;We’re not going anywhere,&uot; said Steve Shore, Director of Operations for American Medical Response.

&uot;We’re by no means going away,&uot; Shore said.

The $1.4 billion healthcare piece of Laidlaw Inc. has experienced financial hardship as a result of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

&uot;Mississippi has a 50 percent denial rate,&uot; Shore said. This means that half of the claims AMR&160;files with Medicare are denied.

&uot;Louisiana has something around a 30 percent denial rate,&uot; Shore said.

The American Ambulance Association is lobbying Congress for relief from the BBA.

&uot;The fact that AMR is for sale and doesn’t have a buyer yet makes for some uncertainty,&uot; Cangemi said. &uot;Where they’re going to go depends on who buys them.&uot;

But Shore said AMR as the largest provider of ambulance service in the country has made a commitment to its service areas.

&uot;I promise you we’re not going anywhere,&uot; Shore said.

Laidlaw expects to get around $2 billion for both AMR&160;and EmCare. That money will be used to reduce corporate debt and invest in the bus transportation business.

Although there are no buyers for AMR at the moment, Shore said no one at AMR is concerned about their future.

&uot;For all of us at AMR, it’s business as usual. We anticipate no disruption of service or care.&uot;