A-Stat Ambulance Owners Convicted of Health Care Fraud


 
 

Lynn Brezosky | | Wednesday, April 16, 2008


SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A former Hidalgo County (Texas) commissioner and his wife were found guilty of fraudulently billing Medicaid and Medicare more than $14 million to take patients on ambulances to dialysis appointments, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Guadalupe Garces Jr. and Araceli Garces each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and multiple other counts at their July 18 sentencing. A federal jury in McAllen found the couple guilty late Friday.

Each remains free on $100,000 bond.

The couple, who owned A-Stat Ambulance Inc., first were indicted in December 2006. Federal investigators said they billed Medicare and Medicaid for approximately $12 million and were paid approximately $4.5 million for unnecessary ambulance trips between May 2001 and June 2004.

Court papers show they billed the federal insurance programs between $365 and $570 per day several times a week for the trips.

Guidelines state that ambulances should be used for kidney failure patients who are bedridden and have had a doctor certify the trips as medically necessary. Patients in wheelchairs are supposed to be transported in vans or by other means.

The Garces couple told paramedics not to note that patients were able to walk or sit in wheelchairs and changed ambulance "run sheets" if they did. They also told staff to bring patients directly into clinics or homes in case they were being followed by federal agents who would see patients walking or in wheelchairs.

The couple sought out dialysis patients and paid incentives to staff members who recruited new ones.

A superseding grand jury indictment in May 2007 alleged that the couple continued the practice while their case was in court by setting up a new ambulance company in their 20-year-old son's name.

Investigators said A Care EMS Inc. fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid approximately $3 million and was paid $1.6 million between March 2005 and December 2006. The company used a rubber stamp with their son's signature to continue the ruse.

Rodney Ramos, director of operations for A Care EMS, entered into a plea deal in September and is awaiting sentencing.

lbrezosky@express-news.net




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics:

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

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


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 >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >