January 31, 2018

Tampa’s Largest Ambulance Providers Will Pay $5.5M to Resolve Whistleblower-Initiated Suit

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

AmeriCare Ambulance Service, Inc. and its sister company, AmeriCare ALS, Inc. have reached a $5.5 million settlement with the government, resolving allegations that AmeriCare defrauded Medicare by billing for medically unnecessary ambulance transportation services. According to the government’s complaint, AmeriCare submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare and TRICARE for unwarranted ambulance transports over an eight-year period. AmeriCare also allegedly created thousands of false reports and documentation in furtherance of its scheme. Through its investigation, the government amassed a substantial body of evidence, including damaging employee testimony and unnecessary transports identified in government audits.

“Fraudulently billing the government for medically unnecessary ambulance transports poses a heavy drain on the Treasury, deprives federal health care programs of valuable resources, and will not be tolerated,” United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez said in statement issued yesterday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. “This lawsuit and today’s settlement evidence our office’s ongoing efforts to safeguard federal health care program beneficiaries from the effects of this type of unlawful conduct.”

Whistleblower Ernest Sharp, a former AmeriCare employee, initiated the lawsuit under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The government later intervened, taking over the action. For his contributions, the whistleblower will receive $1.15 million from the settlement proceeds

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