FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         CIV
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1996                       (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888

                                 
              U.S. SETTLES FALSE CLAIMS ALLEGATIONS 
               WITH HARTFORD AREA AMBULANCE COMPANIES 

                                 
     WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Three Connecticut ambulance companies
will pay the United States $700,000 to settle allegations they
defrauded Medicare by billing the health insurance program for
unnecessary ambulance services, the Department of Justice
announced today.

     The Department said it reached a civil settlement with
Professional Ambulance Service Inc., L&M Ambulance Corporation,
and Trinity Ambulance Corporation, all of which operated out of
the Hartford area.  In addition, the companies agreed to
implement a corporate compliance program to ensure the accuracy
and validity of their billings to Medicare and state health care
programs.
  
     "This type of fraud must be rooted out and vigorously
pursued," said Frank W. Hunger, Assistant Attorney General for
the Civil Division.  "Those that bilk Medicare should be on
notice that the Department places a high priority on pursuing
health care investigations and recovering lost funds." 
 
     Lewis Morris, Assistant Inspector General for the Department
of Health and Human Services, said, "This investigation and
recovery is one more example of the seriousness with which the
United States treats those in the health care industry, including
ambulance companies, that break the law."
 
     An HHS investigation revealed that the companies billed
Medicare for transporting by ambulance elderly patients for
dialysis treatment between non-skilled nursing facilities or
personal residences and out-patient dialysis centers or
hospitals.  Medicare pays for ambulance transportation only when
it is medically necessary, for example, when a patient requires
emergency medical attention or the patient cannot sit, stand or
walk.  

     The United States claimed the companies defrauded Medicare
by charging for the ambulance transportation of patients when it
was not medically necessary.
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96-598