Medicare fraud can take many forms, but ambulance companies bilking the government for unnecessary medical transport are particularly problematic in Philadelphia.
A federal judge has sentenced Penn Choice ambulance driver Valeriy Davydchik to two years in prison followed by three years of supervision. He was also ordered to pay back more than $870,000 out of the $1.5 million the company took in between 2009 and last April.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Leahy, who prosecuted the case, said Penn Choice offered kickbacks to patients who took part in the scam and focused on finding repeat customers.
“Dialysis patients typically require treatment three times a week,” said Leahy. “Medicare would pay approximately $400 plus a mileage allowance for each round trip ambulance transport, so as a result each dialysis patient who was covered by Medicare could generate $1,200 per week in revenues for Penn Choice.”
Not only were the transports medically unnecessary, but the ambulances flunked a safety inspection when the FBI made the arrests for fraud.
“The safety aspect of this case is particularly egregious in that patients were transported in vehicles that were unsafe, unsound, and did not have the proper medical equipment on board,” said Leahy.
Ambulance fraud has become so rampant in Philadelphia that in January the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a moratorium on granting new licenses in the area.