Legislative Proposal Would Let State Collect Ambulance Bills From Tax Refunds

March 5, 2015

A legislative proposal that would allow the state to deduct the cost of ambulance services from an individual’s state tax refund has backing from the hospital industry, which has contributed more than $208,000 to majority Republican legislators, including more than $11,000 to the bill’s sponsors, since the beginning of 2011.

The measure, Senate Bill 40, would allow counties and municipalities, many of which contract with private ambulance services for 911 calls and other medical emergencies, to ask the state Department of Revenue to subtract ambulance service debts from individual state tax refunds in order to pay the bill.

The bill has the support of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, which is the hospital industry’s state lobbying group. Hospital executives and the association’s political action committee contributed $208,569 between 2011 and July, 2014, to current Republican lawmakers, who control the Assembly 63-36 and the Senate 18-14.

The hospital industry contributed $11,365 to 10 of the bill’s GOP sponsors, including $3,250 to GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls; $2,030 to Rep. Edward Brooks of Reedsburg; $1,775 to Rep. John Spiros of Marshfield; $1,250 to Rep. Thomas Weatherson of Racine; and $1,000 each to Rep. Joan Ballweg of Markesan and Sen. Roger Roth of Appleton.

The hospital industry’s top individual contributors between 2011 and July, 2014, to current Republican legislators include Michelle Mettner, of Madison, a vice president at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, $4,550; Nick and Laurie Gianitsos, of Lake Geneva, both employees of Mercy Health Systems, $4,350 (Nick Gianitsos, a doctor, as served as medical director of Mercy Men’s Health Center and chairman of robotic surgery at Mercy Health Systems); and Patricia Graul, of Green Bay, a speech therapist at St. Vincent Hospital, $4,325.