Feds to investigate MEDSTAR billing practices
FT. MYERS - The Federal Aviation Administration will be in Ft. Myers on Tuesday to look into Lee County MEDSTAR helicopter ambulance services.
“The Lee County Commission was updated today that the Lee County Public Safety Department contacted the FAA this morning to inform them of the incorrect billing of the trips made on the Bell 430 Helicopter,” according to a statement released on Friday night from Lee County Public Safety.
The service, which is used to transport patients to area hospitals, was shut down last month and three employees were fired.
At the time, Lee Co. officials in charge of running MEDSTAR cited national accreditation was the reason for shutting down services for six to nine months.
But the release of the statement indicates that MEDSTAR may also have had other reasons for suspending the service.
“As a result of the self-reporting, the FAA will be sending two inspectors to Fort Myers on Tuesday to review the events that led to the incorrect billing,” the statement went on to detail.
MEDSTAR was apparently not suppose to bill patients who were transported on the aircraft because they were not accredited to do so as required by the FAA.
At least one county commissioner is concerned about the new findings because the city will have to issue refunds for as much as $300,000.
“Now we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially millions in fines or losses in one way or another,” said Commissioner Frank Mann.
The commissioner is now looking at who may have dropped the ball by billing customers when MEDSTAR was not allowed to do so.
“The county commission should have been alerted to this much earlier. I don't like the away it's been handled and I'm going to find out more.”
The issue is expected to be discussed at the next county commission meeting on Tuesday, the same day FAA investigators are expected to arrive in town.