A subsidiary of HealthEast, a St. Paul, Minn.-based hospital system, has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine to settle charges that it falsely billed Medicare and Medicaid for certain patient transportation services from 1989 to 1992.
It's the second time a major hospital system in the Twin Cities has been hit by such allegations.
In 1993 HealthSpan Health Systems in Minneapolis paid a $3 million fine for allegedly miscoding patient transportation services billed to Medicare and Medicaid. The allegations then leveled by HHS' inspector general's office were against a subsidiary of Health One, which merged with LifeSpan in 1992 to form HealthSpan. HealthSpan is now part of Allina Health System.
The new settlement involves HealthEast Transportation, a subsidiary of the HealthEast system, which operates three hospitals in the Twin Cities area.
HHS' inspector general's office accused the ambulance company of billing for services not provided, mischarging for mileage and using ambulances to transport patients when a medical van would have been sufficient. The settlement covers claims submitted from January 1989 to December 1992.
The federal government received $350,000 of the settlement, and the state received the remainder.
As part of the settlement, the company must hire a compliance officer to review its claims for the next three years and must provide compliance training for all employees.
The ambulance service said its claims were proper and didn't admit wrongdoing in the settlement. It said 3% of the trips it made from 1989 to 1992 were examined by the government.