Hospital to pay $2.5 million to settle claims that it billed patients' ambulance trips to SNFs as emergencies

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A Georgia hospital has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle claims that it billed discharged patients' ambulance trips to skilled nursing facilities as emergencies, according to state authorities.

In a settlement announcement posted Thursday, the United States Attorney Middle District of Georgia said that The Medical Center Navicent Health will pay to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims for inflated or unnecessary ambulance trips.

Navicent had been accused of billing Medicaid for “emergency” ambulance transports where patients were discharged to an area skilled nursing facility or home. The hospital provider also allegedly billed for some transports by ambulance that were not medically necessary, authorities said.

The settlement, which closes a 27-month investigation into whistleblower claims about Navicent's ambulance billing, does not indicate any admission of guilt, the attorney's office said.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on this issue that avoids costly litigation and does not include any admission of liability,” a Navicent spokesman said in a statement to local media. “We will continue to focus on improving our procedures. Our delivery of high quality patient care was not affected by this issue.”