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EMSA reaches settlement with U.S. government

TULSA, Okla. – Our state’s largest ambulance service provider has reached a settlement agreement after being accused of implementing an illegal profit cap model.

The investigation into the organization started several years ago when a federal civil lawsuit was filed by a former employee of a company that contracted with EMSA.

Last year, the federal government alleged in court documents that Paramedics Plus was created to displace EMSA’s current ambulance services contractor, and in exchange, the newly created company would kick back part of its proceeds to EMSA and EMSA president Stephen Williamson.

The federal lawsuit said, “Defendants engaged in a kickback scheme designed to control the award of a lucrative public ambulance contract.”

The lawsuit claimed that some of the kickbacks included making political contributions to Oklahoma politicians at the request of the EMSA president, paying millions of dollars in bribes, interest free cash payments and loans, and expensive gifts.

The federal government alleged the defendants owe millions of dollars in penalties and damages for false Medicare and Medicaid claims.

“The anti-kickback act says you can’t pay a thing of value in order to receive funds from Medicare or Medicaid,” said former federal prosecutors Robert McCampbell.

On Monday, EMSA announced that its Board of Trustees reached a settlement agreement of $300,000 regarding the civil lawsuit.

“It will cost EMSA a fraction of what we would have paid in legal fees should we have gone to trial. In fact, our case against the government was so strong, we were able to negotiate from $20 million down to the final amount,” said Jan Slater, chair of the EMSA Board of Trustees. “The settlement is in the best interest of our patients and the communities we serve. Our number one priority is and has always been to provide Oklahomans with the highest quality emergency medical care. We are ready to put this behind us and continue moving forward under new leadership.”

“It became evident that nothing illegal transpired when the government deposed key personnel and tried to build a case against us,” Slater said. “No evidence was found that any of the money EMSA received was mismanaged nor that any individual has been personally enriched.”