Hospitals sending patients home in ambulances pay $7.5 million for Medicare fraud

Hospitals in Jacksonville Florida that have been sending patients home from the hospital by ambulance have agreed to pay $6.25 million to Uncle Sam and the ambulance company another $1.25 as the Government determined that ambulances were not needed as there was no emergency. The hospitals involved included Baptist Medical Center, Downtown, Baptist Medical Center South, Baptist Medical Center Beaches, Baptist Medical Center Nassau, Memorial Hospital, Orange Park Medical Center, Specialty Hospital Memorial Health, Lake City and UF Health.

Jason Mehta, an Assistant United States Attorney began his investigation into Medicare billing by ambulance after a whistleblower lawsuit was filed by Shawn Pelletier, an EMT since 1998 who worked for Century and Liberty ambulance companies. He said he saw documents being falsified for Medicare billing.

Mehta noticed that the majority of non-emergency ambulance rides originated from the hospitals. Most of those rides ended at nursing homes. Although the hospitals did not gain financially from billing Medicare for the ambulance runs, they gained by opening up rooms to be filled more quickly with other patients. According to Mehta the rate at which ambulance transport expenses are increasing is about twice the rate of other medical expenses increases.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.