Medicare Fraud Cases Holding Up Ambulances - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Medicare Fraud Cases Holding Up Ambulances

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FOX 26 was the first to report on massive Medicare fraud involving wheelchairs. Some unscrupulous medical supply companies were billing Medicare for wheelchairs that were not needed or in some cases never delivered to elderly patients.

The newest fraud involving your Medicare tax dollars? Private ambulance companies are billing millions to Medicare to take patients to dialysis treatment when those patients could easily make the trip in a car.

Chris Mozingo is not one of those dialysis patients taking Medicare for a ride. The only way he can make it to dialysis treatments is in the back of an ambulance.

"I know there are people that would literally die without this service," Mozingo said.

"Believe me, I didn't open this business to commit fraud," said Arrington Strickland, owner of United EMS.

Strickland has no sympathy for ambulance companies who defraud Medicare and wants them to be held accountable. But the multi-million dollar fraud committed by other ambulance company owners has Strickland not only fearing for his business but for his patients lives.

"They are looking for ways not to pay and that's the consistent issue with Medicare," Strickland said.

Here's how it works: Medicare will pay ambulance services to take nursing home patients to dialysis with no questions asked. But when the patient lives at a private home, the ambulance service must prove there's no other way for the patient to get to dialysis except by ambulance.

"They've decided to deny 90 percent of the transports we do on a daily basis" Strickland said.

While Medicare is supposed to pay within 21 days, Strickland said in some cases he's waited almost a year for payment.

A spokesman for Medicare told FOX 26 Investigates there is a delay in processing these types of ambulance transports. Non-emergency ambulance transports in Texas are the number one problem now being targeted for possible fraud and because of heightened scrutiny; payments to providers can take much longer than normal.

"I opened this business for the purpose of taking care of people," Strickland said. "Now I'm subject to letting people down because I can't take care of em."

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