Orange County Ambulance Company Pays More Than $3 Million to Settle Allegations That it Overbilled Federal Health Care Programs
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 18, 2013|
SANTA ANA, CA—An Orange County-based ambulance company has paid the United States more than $3 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it received overpayments from the Medicare program and other federal health care programs for transporting patients who were not eligible for ambulance transports, United States Attorney André Birotte, Jr. announced today.
A federal judge in Santa Ana on Friday unsealed a lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act against ambulance transport company FILYN Corporation, which does business under the name Lynch Ambulance and is based in Anaheim. Lynch Ambulance and two of its principals named in the lawsuit settled the case. On November 7 Lynch Ambulance paid $3.05 million to the United States to resolve allegations that from 2001 through 2007 it regularly billed Medicare and other federal healthcare programs for transporting patients who were not “bed-confined” or whose transports otherwise were not medically necessary. The federal health care programs that paid claims for medically unnecessary transports were Medicare, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam—or “whistleblower”—provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which allow private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery. The lawsuit—which was filled by two former Lynch Ambulance employees, Jamie Weatherly and Dawn Lucero—was unsealed after the United States elected to take over part of the case and negotiated the settlement.
Lynch Ambulance has also entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. Glenn R. Ferry, Special Agent in Charge for the Los Angeles Region of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health of Human Services, said, “Taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for these expensive and medically unnecessary ambulance trips. Count on federal law enforcement to aggressively investigate and prosecute such actions.”
Lynch Ambulance and its principals have resolved this case without admitting any wrongdoing.
The settlement with Lynch Ambulance is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; the Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General; the Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Linda A. Kontos, Civil Fraud Section