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Medical transport company pays state $173,000 to resolve Medicaid case

A medical transportation company that operates in Buffalo has paid the state $173,000 to resolve charges that the company billed Medicaid for services provided by unqualified drivers and without the necessary documentation.

The state Attorney General’s Office said a state Department of Motor Vehicles audit found that a number of drivers for First Call were not qualified under the state Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office said its investigation found that in 2009, First Call successfully submitted claims to Medicaid for reimbursement for transportation services provided in the Buffalo market by the unqualified drivers.

Also, between 2007 and 2009, the company failed to keep timely records to prove that it deserved payment for the claims, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The office said its investigation covered a period when the wheelchair van service company was owned by First Transit, part of First Group America, a major provider of transportation services nationwide.

Snyder Corp. later bought First Call, and Snyder remains an owner of the company but is not a party to the settlement, said Kenneth A. Schoetz, the corporation’s general counsel.

Also, Thomas D. Ayers had filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company alleging violations of the New York False Claims Act. The settlement resolves those allegations, and Ayers will receive a portion of the settlement proceeds, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Ayers is a former CEO of We Care Transportation, which also is owned by Snyder Corp., but he left in 2012, Schoetz said.

First Group America paid $173,651 in damages and restitution under the state’s False Claims Act.

“First Call denied the state’s allegations and did not admit liability. To resolve this matter, First Call made the decision to settle with the NY AG’s Office in order to avoid the time, cost and uncertainty of protracted litigation,” Jay Brock, a spokesman for First Group America, said in an email.

The attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit led the investigation.


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