Staff and Wire Reports
TULSA, Okla. - A federal judge has denied motions to dismiss a civil fraud lawsuit against an Oklahoma emergency medical services company and the East Texas Medical Center Regional Health Care System’s former ambulance, division, Paramedics Plus.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant rejected requests for dismissals Wednesday by the Emergency Medical Services Authority, its former CEO, Stephen Williamson, Paramedics Plus and others named in the case, the Tulsa World reported.
The lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors in January claims that Paramedics Plus and EMSA entered into a $20 million kickback scheme to obtain and keep a profitable public ambulance services contract awarded by the authority and its director.Prosecutors say the defendants allegedly created a slush fund that was used to pay the kickbacks. The fund allegedly paid for EMSA gifts, spa treatments, political contributions and travel costs.
The lawsuit claims the “pay to play” scheme violates anti-kickback statutes and the False Claims Act.
EMSA officials said they “fundamentally disagree with the allegations” in the lawsuit and believe the claims are unsupported.
“The government has failed to state viable claims for violation of the (False Claims Act), fraud, unjust enrichment and payment by mistake,” EMSA stated in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The authority manages ambulance services in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. EMSA serves more than 1 million people annually, according to its website.
“It’s important for the communities we serve to understand that none of our patients, insurers or city government partners received inaccurate billing nor were subject to any unlawful activity,” Jan Slater, EMSA board chairwoman, said in a statement. “Additionally, none of the money that EMSA received was mismanaged and no individual has been personally enriched.”
ETMC spun off Paramedics Plus into another, separate entity last April, after the lawsuit was filed.