County Ambulance settles case with government



ELLSWORTH — County Ambulance has entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal and state governments to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims to Medicare and MaineCare from January 2015 through April 2016, according to a press release issued Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank.

County Ambulance, which belongs to John Partridge, will pay $16,776.74.

According to a civil complaint, County Ambulance used money paid to it by Medicare and MaineCare to pay the salary and benefits of a County Ambulance employee who previously had been excluded from the federal health care and MaineCare programs.

Prior to joining County Ambulance, the employee had been excluded after surrendering her license to practice as a pharmacy technician due to the diversion of controlled substances, but County Ambulance failed to check publicly available exclusion databases to determine if she was excluded, Frank stated.

Partridge said County Ambulance did not submit false claims for MaineCare and Medicare reimbursements.

“It’s really misrepresenting,” Partridge said. “It’s not the way it sounds at all.”

The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office “sounds like we submitted false claims. We did not.”

“Any money you spend in an ambulance company, any money you receive is from MaineCare or Medicare,” Partridge said. “The fact that we paid her wages from revenue derived from MaineCare and Medicare,” was the issue. “It’s just the fact that she was on the payroll.”

“The whole story is this girl was hired by my billing manager who was not aware she had to check, unfortunately, and this was the result of it,” said Partridge.

Federal health care programs may not pay for items or services furnished, ordered or prescribed by excluded individuals or entities, including administrative and management services or salary, the U.S. Attorney said.

County Ambulance cooperated throughout the investigation.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Maine.