History of Ambulance Fraud in America

Published as a public service for Medical Patients, Media
and the United States Federal Government

It's easy to miss some of the most compelling scams in America if all you do is watch television, which exists not so much as a public service, but as a public distraction. When you consider how much cash that health-related industries shovel into mainstream media advertising to promote their services and products, it's no wonder that ambulance fraud or health care fraud are rarely treated as front page news. That's where SacTV can help demystify some of the fog that makes this deception seem non-existent.

The biggest reason why nearly half of American adults are deep in debt is directly due to health care costs, which are extremely high in the United States compared with most other countries. That's what the "free market" ends up creating: extra piles of cash for big business and tons of debt for middle class citizens. Part of the reason people have not been too outraged by marked up health care costs is that it's considered a necessity, as most people quickly forget it's a for-profit industry.

Consequently, vendors in the health care and ambulance industries can get away with marking up prices to extreme levels, just because they can. Most people don't really think of a five mile $1500 ambulance ride to an emergency room as a scam, even though the actual cost of such a trip is considerably lower. People just assume that's the cost of saving lives. Additionally, medical technicians are looked upon as icons in our society, thanks to plenty of TV conditioning via medical dramas - that are actually full of misinformation. Americans also forget, or never knew, that prior to the 1960s, doctors usually were not high paid employees.

Once Medicare became part of the funding mechanism for the health care industry starting in 1966, medical marketers began to look for ways to exploit this government cookie jar. Medicare was created by the Lyndon Johnson Administration under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act. By 2010 Medicare provided health insurance to nearly 50 million Americans, most of whom were age 65 or older, representing over $175 billion. But Medicare only covers certain costs while the rest become out of pocket expenses.

As it turns out, the federal government has been cracking down on both ambulance fraud and health care fraud throughout the 2010s. The way ambulance fraud works is when an emergency service delivers a patient in an "Advanced Life Support" (ALS) vehicle, even if the patient doesn't need it. The bill is then sent to Medicare (the government) and the rest of the details become forgotten and paid for. At least that's how the scam used to work until the Obama Administration's crackdown on medical frauds.

The following is a list of crackdowns and settlements involving ambulance schemes to defraud the federal government. This list also includes stories of ambulance personnel found to violate other laws, just as a reminder they are humans, not super-humans.

The purpose of this list is not to discredit the entire medical profession, but to reveal the facts that do not surface as headlines in mainstream media that point to examples of medical corruption. This corruption clearly has been more widespread than the common public perception. According to FBI estimates, Medicare fraud accounted for $17-54 billion in improper payments to medical vendors in 2011. For more information, visit the FBI's web page on health care fraud.

Health Care Tops Lists of False Claims Act Violations (2015)

Feds Charge 243 People (Doctors, Nurses, Medical Vendors) with Medicare Fraud

Hospital on Hook for Ambulance Fraud

Ambulance Companies to Pay $11.5 Million to Settle Kickback Allegations

2 Connecticut Ambulance Firms to Pay $600,000 in Insurance Fraud Settlement

Hartford Fire Department Starts Resolving Violations

U.S. Attorney to Attack Fraud in Health Care 2014

Law Firms Court EMS Whistle Blowers

Rural/Metro Corp Agrees to Pay $5.4 Million to Settle Claims of Fraudulent Medicare Billing

South Carolina Ambulance Company Pays $800,000 to Settle Claims of Medicare Fraud

WEHO Ambulance Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Medicare's $5 Billion Ambulance Tab Signals Area of Abuse

Ambulance officials charged in $1.9M Medicare fraud

Owners of Los Angeles Ambulance Company Sentenced for Medicare Fraud Scheme

Former Maine Fire Chief and City Sued Over Sexual Assault

Utica Facing $7 Million Suit Over Fire Station Sex Assault

State warns counties about unlicensed EMT with criminal arrests

More paramedics abusing drugs, threatening rescues

Paramedic pleads guilty to fraud

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