2 Arkansas hospitals accuse EMS provider of balance billing

Fort Smith, Ark.-based Sparks Regional Medical Center and Mercy Fort Smith (Ark.) filed a lawsuit against Fort Smith Emergency Medical Services that accused the EMS operator of balance billing, according to Arkansas News.

Sparks Regional Medical Center and Mercy Fort Smith jointly established Fort Smith EMS in 1978 and provide financial assistance to the ambulance service. The hospitals also appoint and approve Fort Smith EMS' board members.

In a statement to Arkansas News about the lawsuit, Sparks Regional Medical Center and Mercy Fort Smith said: "It was determined that the bylaws and board structure currently being used by Fort Smith EMS were inappropriately adopted in an effort to shift oversight away from Mercy and Sparks. As the original corporate members of Fort Smith EMS, Mercy and Sparks seek to regain oversight of the EMS board. Our goal is to ensure that our community is appropriately served by this important resource."

Fort Smith EMS said the lawsuit contains several inaccuracies. Galen Hunter, a Fort Smith EMS board member appointed by Sparks in 1999, told Arkansas News, "Mercy wants to control Fort Smith EMS. They control EMS services in Springfield, Benton County and in Oklahoma." Mr. Hunter also denied that Fort Smith EMS uses balance billing.

Editor's note: This article was updated July 10.

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