In a lawsuit unsealed in federal court today, five ambulance companies have entered into civil settlements with the Department of Justice requiring them to collectively pay more than $11.5 million in payments to the United States to resolve kickback allegations.
The settling defendants include three Orange-County based companies—Pacific Ambulance, Inc. and Bowers Companies, Inc., (both of which were subsequently acquired by Rural/Metro Corporation after the alleged misconduct occurred) and Care Ambulance Service, Inc.; and two San Diego-based companies—Balboa Ambulance Service, Inc., and E.R. Ambulance, Inc.
The settlements resolve allegations that the defendants engaged in so-called “swapping” kickback schemes by providing deeply discounted—and often below cost—ambulance services to hospitals and/or skilled nursing facilities in exchange for exclusive rights to the facilities’ more lucrative Medicare patient referrals. Such swapping arrangements can lead to overutilization of medical services and inflated charges to the Medicare program. The government alleges that the arrangements in this case resulted in false claims for Medicare Part B transports which in essence subsidized the discounted trips.
The original article can be found at www.fbi.gov