Fla. ambulance company to pay $1.2M in federal whistle-blower lawsuit

Liberty Ambulance Services reached a settlement in the investigation, resolving claims that they up-coded life support services from "basic" to "advanced"

By Dan Scanlan
The Florida Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A $1.2 million settlement was reached this week with Jacksonville’s Liberty Ambulance Services following a multiple-year federal investigation and the government’s intervention into a whistle-blower lawsuit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The parties resolved claims that Liberty Ambulance knowingly up-coded claims for life support services from “basic” to “advanced” without justification from June 2015 to January 2016, unnecessarily transporting patients, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The federal government originally filed a lawsuit in mid-2015 against Liberty under the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute, describing a 10-year scheme in which the company “deliberately and knowingly submitted false claims” to federally subsidized health care programs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The complaint said Liberty was not only “acutely aware” that false claims were being submitted, but also directed that they be submitted to maximize reimbursement.

At least $28 million in claims were submitted to federal health care programs, the “vast majority” medically unnecessary and not reimbursable, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in 2015.

Shawn Pelletier, a trained emergency medical technician employed by Liberty from 2004 to 2006, was a party to the 2015 lawsuit. He acted as a whistle-blower for the government and will receive about $264,000 from the $1.2 million settlement with Liberty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, with no determination of liability, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Copyright 2018 The Florida Times-Union

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