County Ambulance disputes reference to “false claims”

ELLSWORTH — The owner of County Ambulance disputes the characterization of a civil settlement he agreed to with U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank this month.

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

According to a press release Frank’s office issued last week, County Ambulance agreed with federal and state agencies to resolve allegations that it submitted “false claims” to Medicare and MaineCare from January 2015 through April 2016.

The ambulance service will pay $16,776.74 under the terms of the settlement.

Partridge said the statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office “sounds like we submitted false claims. We did not. It’s really misrepresenting, It’s not the way it sounds at all.”

“Any money you spend in an ambulance company, any money you receive, is from MaineCare or Medicare,” Partridge said.

The issue arose after County Ambulance hired a woman to help Partridge’s billing manager.

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, according to Frank.

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

“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,” Partridge said.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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