Is it a scam? Is it fraud? Is it elder abuse?

I am an adult child of a Highlands County senior citizen. I live in another state. My mother, with a heart condition, was having severe pain in the fall of 2019. Highlands County EMS transported my mother to the hospital where she was administered morphine, tested, observed, and was released. The only other time she ever called for an ambulance was years ago.

Her file was mis-coded to Medicare, and she was invoiced the full amount of the short ambulance transport – $730 – by a contracted collection agency in West Palm Beach.

Upon investigation, we children have found that this is a frequent practice in Highlands County. The patient pays the full amount, which is much more than Medicare coverage, and EMS as well the collection agency make a nice profit.

This is scam. This is fraud. This is elder abuse.

The Highlands County commission is aware. The director of safety is aware. The county attorney is aware. This news agency is aware. When will this be investigated and stopped?

My mother, like many others who have been defrauded in Highlands County, is now afraid to call for an ambulance. May never do so, she says. My family is very outraged and concerned.

Readers, what if this was your loved one? Your mother?

I urge all who have been defrauded in this manner to report it to a commissioner. Make this stop, please!

Authorities, do your sworn duty!

Bandy Draper

Cookeville, Tennessee