Bucks County Ambulance Companies and their Owners Agree to $450K+ Judgment for Defrauding Medicare
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that ambulance companies Unicare Ambulance LLC and PA Paramedics LLC, d/b/a EasternCare Ambulance based in Bensalem, PA, their owners, Damon Wade, and Wade’s ex-wife, Amy Wade, also of Bensalem, have agreed to a judgment against them jointly and severally in the amount of $459,907.42 to resolve allegations made by the United States that they made repeated false statements to state and federal officials. As part of the settlement, each defendant has also agreed to a term of exclusion of not less than five years from all federal health care programs.
According to the allegations in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the defendants individually or collectively made repeated false statements, from September 2015 through August 2016, in order to avoid overpayment debts to the United States’ Medicare program and to hide the fact that Damon Wade’s state paramedic license had previously been suspended because he had admitted to forging a physician’s signature. When the Pennsylvania Department of Health eventually learned the truth, it immediately revoked Unicare’s ambulance license. Despite this revocation, Unicare continued to provide and bill Medicare for ambulance services, continued to make false statements about its ownership to state and federal authorities, and kept its fraudulently-obtained reimbursement funds.
The suspicious activity at Unicare and PA Paramedics was detected initially by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, its local Medicare Administrative Contractor (Novitas Solutions, Inc.), and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the General Counsel. In early 2018, the CMS Center for Program Integrity revoked Unicare’s Medicare enrollment for three years for this abusive and fraudulent conduct, and suspended all pending pre-revocation Medicare payments to Unicare.
“Ownership disclosure and licensing requirements ensure that healthcare in Pennsylvania is provided by qualified, competent, and trustworthy professionals,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Attempts to undermine or defraud those systems put Pennsylvanians at risk and allow sleazy operators to continue providing services under new corporate identities. This settlement is the latest example of my Office’s commitment to using all of our enforcement tools to ensure that healthcare providers are legitimate and that any debts that they incur to American taxpayers are paid.”
“Medicare providers and suppliers cannot avoid repaying their overpayment debts by submitting false and misleading information in an attempt to mask their true identity,” said Alec Alexander, Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Director for its Center for Program Integrity. “As this case shows, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uses its regulatory authorities and works closely with our partners, including the Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General, to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“Health companies that deceive regulators and taxpayers, as contended by the government in this case, cannot be tolerated,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Accordingly, the defendants have been barred from participating in all federal health programs for at least five years.”
This investigation was conducted with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of General Counsel. For the United States Attorney’s Office, Assistant United States Attorneys Paul W. Kaufman and Matthew E. K. Howatt and auditor Denis Cooke handled the investigation and settlement.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.