Date: February 22, 2018
The Daily Times, a newspaper based in Salisbury, Md., along with other Maryland media, reported on a whistleblower case filed under the federal False Claims Act by TELG client Bryan Arvey, a former ambulance driver for Hart to Heart Transportation Services. Mr. Arvey claims that Hart to Heart and related parties billed Medicare for unnecessary services such as ambulance transportation and use of stretchers.
"It's a big deal in the state of Maryland, and a huge deal in the region in which [Hart to Heart] operate[s] because they’re one of the biggest [ambulance] operators. People in this region should be concerned."
David L. Scher
Ambulance firm, PRMC under federal Medicare fraud investigation
Federal authorities are investigating whether a private ambulance company, with Peninsula Regional Medical Center’s cooperation, knowingly overbilled Medicare on thousands of nonemergency trips.
The probe stems from a whistleblower’s lawsuit alleging that Hart to Heart Transportation Services falsified Medicare claims to make the case that ambulances were necessary to ferry newly-discharged hospital patients.
Dollar amounts of fraudulent claims filed by Hart to Heart were likely “in the millions,” court documents say.
“It’s a big deal in the state of Maryland, and a huge deal in the region in which they operate because they’re one of the biggest (ambulance) operators,” said David Scher, the Washington-based attorney who filed the federal suit on behalf of former Hart to Heart driver Bryan Arvey of Salisbury. “People in this region should be concerned.”
The lawsuit claims it all began with a bedside ruse.
If patients could sit comfortably or walk — abilities that would likely disqualify Medicare reimbursement — Hart to Heart paramedics often would ask hospital staff to have them lie down in bed, the lawsuit contends. The paramedics would then strap the patient to a stretcher, potentially foisting unnecessary stress onto the patients, Scher said.
Medicare Fraud Lawsuit Names Private Ambulance Company & PRMC
From WBOC-TV, Salisbury, Md. (Feb. 22, 2018)
BALTIMORE — Federal authorities are investigating claims a private ambulance company committed Medicare fraud with the participation of Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.
A lawsuit filed in federal court outlines an alleged scheme to rake in tens of millions of dollars by over-billing Medicare on tens of thousands of non-emergency trips. The plaintiffs include the United States of America and [Bryan] Arvey, a whistleblower who was formerly employed by the company at the center of the lawsuit, Hart to Heart Transportation Services Inc.
Arvey alleges Hart to Heart Transportation Services, or HHTS, required him and other drivers or EMTs to falsify their reports and use inaccurate billing codes to reflect that ambulance transport was necessary even when it wasn’t.
According to the lawsuit, PRMC staff “acquiesced in and facilitated the false narratives by placing patients who were not bedridden in their beds on the instruction of Hart to Heart, so that EMTs could justify transporting them by stretcher.”
The defendants named are HHTS, EMS Billing Solutions Inc, PRMC, & John, Terry and Richard Skidmore, who operate HHTS. The lawsuit states the Skidmores submitted false Medicare claims when they billed Medicare for ambulance transportation that they knew was not medically necessary.
Hart To Heart Lawsuit Alleges Medicare Fraud
From Patch.com (Feb. 23, 2018)
BALTIMORE, MD — A former employee of Forest Hill-based Hart to Heart Transportation Services has filed a lawsuit alleging the company committed Medicare fraud by billing for millions of dollars for trips that were not medically necessary. The lawsuit was filed in 2013, unsealed in 2015, stayed in 2017 and is set to go to trial this spring, according to court filings.
Heart to Heart owners John and Terry Skidmore are accused of submitting false claims to Medicare saying ambulance transport was required when it was not. Vice President Richard Skidmore allegedly directed employees to create false records and threatened to suspend or terminate those who would not go along with the plan.