On September 24, 2013, the OIG issued a Memorandum Report titled “Utilization of Medicare Ambulance Transports, 2002-2011” analyzing the continued increases in ambulance usage among Medicare beneficiaries.  The OIG found that from 2002 to 2011, the total number of Medicare beneficiaries who received ambulance transports increased by 34 percent (while the total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries increased by just 7 percent); Medicare Part B payments for ambulance transports increased 130 percent (compared to a 74 percent increase in overall Part B payments); and the number of ambulance suppliers increased by 26 percent.  The report quantified the extent of the increase in ambulance usage and not the underlying causes of those increases.  The OIG stated, however, that a “forthcoming report . . . will identify ambulance suppliers that exhibited characteristics of questionable billing in the first half of 2012 and geographic areas with high numbers of these suppliers.”

Dialysis-related transports showed by far the greatest increase at 269 percent.  In this regard, the OIG noted that “[a]lthough dialysis facilities are a covered destination, transports to them do not usually meet coverage requirements under Medicare.”  The OIG further noted in its report that
“[f]indings from past OIG reports indicate that the ambulance benefit is vulnerable to abuse.”

The OIG’s report is available here.