June 12, 2006
COMPANY SETTLES WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S
OFFICE FOR IMPROPER BILLING
Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today
that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement
with an Arizona ambulance company concerning its billing practices.
The company, Dunlock, Ltd., 8401 East Indian School Road, Scottsdale,
AZ 85251, did business in Maryland from 1997 to 2003 as Rural Metro
Ambulance. Rural Metro agreed to return to consumers more than
$95,000 that it allegedly improperly billed for ambulance services.
The Consumer Protection Division alleged that Rural Metro violated
the Consumer Protection Act by billing consumers who belong to
Health Maintenance Organizations (“HMOs”) amounts for
ambulance services in excess of the limits of their insurance coverage.
This practice, known as “balance billing,” is prohibited
by Maryland law. The Division also alleged that Rural Metro violated
the Consumer Protection Act by billing Maryland consumers who were
Medicaid and Medicare subscribers for covered services, other than
for a co-payment or a deductible. Rural Metro also allegedly accepted
assignment of consumers’ insurance coverage but, nevertheless,
billed consumers for ambulance services without first seeking reimbursement
from the assigned insurance policies. Rural Metro denied the allegations
but agreed to settle the matter.
In the settlement, Rural Metro agreed to return the amounts that
the Division alleged were improperly billed, an amount estimated
to be $95,000. Rural Metro also agreed to pay the Division a $50,000
civil penalty and $30,000 in costs. Although Rural Metro is no
longer offering ambulance services in Maryland, it agreed to alter
its billing practices if it ever operates in the state again.
Consumers who are insured through HMOs cannot be billed for a covered
service beyond any applicable co-pay or deductible,” Curran
said. “I encourage consumers who are concerned that they
are not being billed properly for health care services to contact
my Office’s Health Education and Advocacy Unit.”
Consumers eligible for restitution under the settlement will be
contacted by the Consumer Protection Division. Consumers with complaints
about the bills they receive from their health care providers may
call the Health Education and Advocacy Unit at 1-877-261-8807 or
410-528-1840 or may file a complaint over the Internet at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/heau.htm.