A Kentucky ambulance company has agreed to pay almost $1,000,000 to settle charges of Medicare fraud brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. Prosecutors had accused Lafferty Enterprises, doing business as Trans Star Ambulance, of transporting patients to and from dialysis by ambulance even though an ambulance wasn’t medically necessary.
Trans Star must pay $948,000 under the settlement. The company was not required to admit any guilt.
We have seen similar cases in Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia. In some cases the problem is so bad that “patient recruiters” solicit dialysis patients to ride their ambulance to avoid driving. In another variation of this popular Medicare fraud scheme, patient recruiters and ambulance drivers troll clinics and nursing homes offering to transport patients to appointments.
Medicare is a federally funded program. Like Medicaid, which receives state funding, Medicare relies on tax dollars. Patients can take ambulances to appointments but only if it is medically necessary. Much less costly options are available for those that don’t or can’t drive such as van or taxi service.
The Trans Star case was brought by a whistleblower. Kevin Fairlie, the owner of a different ambulance company, alerted the government to the fraud by filing a complaint under the federal False Claims Act. Under that law, whistleblowers are entitled to keep up to 30% of whatever the government collects. In this case, Fairlie was awarded $189,600.
In announcing the settlement, U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said, “It is vitally important that the resources available to federally funded healthcare programs be used only to pay for medically necessary services. Our office and our agency partners are committed to protecting the integrity of these important programs on which so many of our citizens depend.”
Medicare fraud costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Whistleblowers are the government’s best line of defense. Last year, the Justice Department paid out $435,000,000.00 to whistleblowers under the False Claims Act.
If you have inside information about Medicaid fraud, Medicare fraud or any other misuse of taxpayer funds, give us a call. Our team of whistleblower lawyers helps ordinary individuals become heroes, earn the maximum awards possible and fight fraud. Typical claimants in Medicare fraud cases include medical coders, EMTs, billing specialists, IT personnel, patient recruiters and even physicians.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
MahanyLaw – America’s Medicare Fraud and Whistleblower Lawyers