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New Hampshire

April 3, 2014

Salem selectman's family issue spurs debate

Billing error raises questions

SALEM — An ambulance billing error involving Selectman Stephen Campbell’s mother prompted a dispute over whether the issue should have been raised at a public meeting.

But Campbell insists it is a public issue and said he’s concerned other Salem residents could also be billed mistakenly.

Campbell surprised fellow selectmen Monday night when he suddenly rose from his seat and stepped up to the podium during the public comment portion of the meeting, which became heated.

“It has nothing to do with me as a selectman,” he said. “Unfortunately, my family has had to use the ambulance a number of times. Every single time, it has been taken care of by insurance.”

After Margery Campbell was taken to the hospital Jan. 17, Medicare refused to pay the $1,111 bill, even though it paid for several other ambulance transports in the past, he said.

A mistake was made; Medicare eventually paid all but $94. Neither Campbell nor the town know how the error occurred, but he said Cigna — the town’s secondary insurance carrier — should have paid the remainder and it did not.

Campbell’s elderly mother receives health insurance through the town because his father, who is deceased, worked for the Salem Police Department.

Campbell said he contacted the company hired by the town, Comstar Ambulance Billing Service, to question the bill and didn’t receive any answers. He was irate.

“How many people in this town have gotten a bill through this company that they didn’t owe?” Campbell said. “I’m concerned people are being billed for things.”

Town Manager Keith Hickey said Campbell approached him about the issue and he defended Comstar. Campbell should have contacted the insurance providers, but he refused to do so, Hickey said.

“With regard to Comstar, I will vehemently deny most of the comments made by Selectman Campbell,” Hickey said. “Comstar could not comment on this because of HIPAA.”

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