Ambulance, hospital to pay $1.4M in unneeded-transport case

A Maine company has entered into a settlement with the government to pay $825,000 to resolve charges it provided medically unnecessary ambulance transportation, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank said the charges accused North East Mobile Health Services of violating the federal False Claims Act. Maine Medical Center, the largest hospital in the state, also has agreed to pay $600,000 stemming from a separate settlement, he said.

The settlement resolves allegations that North East Mobile Health improperly billed Medicare for non-emergency ambulance transportation of patients discharged from Maine Medical Center since 2007, Frank said. The government charged that North East improperly billed Medicare for ambulance transports while falsely claiming the patients were "bed confined" or otherwise medically required transportation.

North East, of Scarborough, said in a statement that all providers involved in the transports were "acting in the best medical interest" of patients.

"Although North East Mobile Health Services continues to deny that all the transports were not medically necessary, North East Mobile Health Services has agreed to repay the claims, the cost of which is less than defending a lawsuit," the statement said.