Med Express license on jury agenda

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 10, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Med Express officials have another chance tonight to tell Concordia Parish police jurors why the ambulance service should have an occupational license in the parish.

&uot;Here we are, sending people all over the state and the country trying to attract industries to our area, when all (Med Express) wants to do is come in here and employ people,&uot;&160;said Juror Gene Allen, explaining why he asked that the issue of allowing Med Express to operate in the parish be placed on the jury’s agenda.

&uot;We would have hoped for no delays … It’s unfortunate,&uot; said Med Express Public Relations Director Shannon Pennington.

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&uot;We believe it would be best for the parish to have a choice of providers.&uot;

The jury voted Aug. 14 to delay issuing an occupational license to Med Express until it can get an attorney general’s opinion on whether the jury can issue a license to a company that is suing a political subdivision of the parish.

On April 20, Med Express filed suit against Riverland Medical Center in Seventh Judicial District Court, charging the hospital owed the company $40,087 for transporting non-insured patients in cases Medicare and Medicaid would not cover.

But Med Express President Mark Majors, who could not be reached for comment Friday, has said that if the company dropped the lawsuit, it would be in violation of federal kickback laws.

Earlier this week, Assistant District Attorney Madaline Gibbs, the jury’s legal adviser, said she had not yet received a request from the jury to ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter.

As it now stands, American Medical Response is the only ambulance provider in Concordia parish besides the Vidalia Fire Department, which primarily serves those inside that town’s limits.

Med Express stopped service to Concordia Parish in August 1999 but announced last month its intention to reenter the parish. Even if Med Express gets its occupational license, the Concordia Parish 911 Communications Board will have to vote on adding Med Express to the parish’s 911 rotation.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. today in the Police Jury meeting room of the new courthouse at 4001 Carter St. in Vidalia.