- Dean Smith
Medicare Scam Sends Ambulance Operator to Prison
According to John P. Martin of the Philadelphia Inquirer, William Hlushmanuk, a Ukrainian resident of Northeast Philadelphia, started an ambulance service that frequented dialysis centers three times a week for the purpose of recruiting passengers, most of which were capable of driving themselves, making them ineligible for Medicare covered transportation.
For five years, Hlushmanuk and his staff transported the ineligible patients to treatment centers and billed Medicare for approximately $5.4 million. Hlushmanuk rewarded himself with luxury vehicles, motorcycles, vacations, a house in Southampton, Bucks County, and drugs, according to Philly.com.
Originally, state Health Department officials rejected the bid to start the business because his prior convictions included attempted burglary and trying to acquire a firearm.
After being rejected in 2006, Hlushmanuk paid $60,000 to Roman Bayger, an acquaintance who has also been charged in the scam, to act as the applicant for “Starcare,” but that was the extent of Bayger’s involvement. Hlushmanuk and his wife, Diana, who has been charged and will be sentenced in July, ran the service.
Last month, Hlushmanuk was sentenced to 92 months in prison after a conviction of two counts of health care fraud. Although, he seemed apologetic when telling U.S. District Judge, John R. Padova, “I’m sorry for everything that happened. I really didn’t know what was wrong or right.”
Padova, says “In terms of defrauding the government under Medicare, this case ranks way up there,” and he hopes this case will be an example and ultimately deter others from participating in these fraudulent scams. Medicare fraud, according to Padova, “is a social evil, which everyone is trying so hard to control.”