Pennsylvania Ambulance Companies Among Biggest in Area Medicare Payments

Data released as federal regulators work to show transparency in health care


 
 

HAROLD BRUBAKER, The Philadelphia Inquirer | | Thursday, April 10, 2014


It doesn't take many customers to build an ambulance business, according to Medicare payment data released Wednesday by federal regulators.

For example, Red Cross Ambulance, which is based in Huntingdon Valley and operates two ambulances, state data show, collected $395,601 from Medicare for a dozen patients in 2012.

That amounted to an annual average of nearly $33,000 per patient. It's not clear how many trips Red Cross made or whether it provided service to those patients for the full year.

No one answered the phone at Red Cross' offices, which are in World Executive Suites, an office building on Philmont Avenue.

By contrast, the two biggest for-profit ambulance companies in the region - Exceptional Medical Transportation in West Berlin and Keystone Quality Transport in Springfield, Delaware County - transported thousands and collected a full-year average of $500 to $600 for each patient.

The data released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services detailed payments to doctors and other service providers. It was part of an effort by federal officials to foster greater financial transparency in health care.

In the eight-county Philadelphia region, ambulance companies ranked third in Medicare payments, with a total of $118 million. In terms of provider types, only internal medicine doctors, with $142 million in payments, and ophthalmologists, with $138 million, ranked higher.

Ambulance payments are a hot-button issue in the Philadelphia area, where regulators in January issued a moratorium on new Medicare provider numbers following a series of fraud convictions and an analysis showing that Medicare billing for ambulance services here is higher than in other regions.

There are 86 for-profit ambulance companies in Southeastern Pennsylvania that operate just one or two vehicles, according to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

Some small ambulance companies are taking advantage of Medicare's willingness to pay for trips to dialysis centers, though it's only supposed to pay for an ambulance for patients who absolutely need it, said Joseph Zupnik, an owner of EMStar, a Philadelphia medical transportation firm that recently merged operations with Keystone Quality Transport.

Zupnik said Medicare easily pays $1,500 a week in transportation for a dialysis patients. "If you sign up 10 or 12 or 20 patients like that and you're making a good living, you're not making an honest living. You're making a good living," he said.

At Victory Ambulance, in Huntingdon Valley, a man who answered the phone and identified himself as the manager said the company works with hospitals and nursing homes.

Asked to confirm that in 2012, 14 Medicare beneficiaries resulted in $355,969 in revenue, for an average of $25,284, the man said he didn't know: "I wasn't here at that time. I'm a new manager in 2013."

hbrubaker@phillynews.com

215-854-4651

@InqBrubaker

Mobile Category: 
News


Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Medicare, health care reform

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

British Medics Bid Farewell to Afghanistan Base

Medical team and troops leave Camp Bastion.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Plane Crash at Wichita Airport

Small plane crashes into airport safety building.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Authorities Investigate Firefighters at Arizona EMS Call

Confrontation caught on video involving Glendale firefighters.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Radio Problems for New York Medics

Medic’s radio failed during a call with an armed patient.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ottawa Shooting Incident

Solider is shot by gunman at national memorial in Ottawa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >