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PRIMARY CHILDREN’S PAYS BACK OVERCHARGES

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Primary Children's Medical Center overcharged the Medicaid system for helicopter ambulance services and has now reimbursed the system.

The $91,405 reimbursement covered all overcharges, penalties and the cost of the investigation, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. The audit period was from October 1988 through August 1992.The department's Medicaid Fraud Unit investigated allegations of overbilling for about a year, said Gary Whitney, Public Safety spokesman.

Joe Mott, chief financial officer at Primary Children's, said Medicaid allows billing as one-way mileage. "We had some changes in personnel during the time period, and they weren't aware of that and were billing the two-way mileage."

"It's pretty common knowledge the billing is (supposed to be) one-way," Whitney said.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Dennis Kroll said, "Medicaid has a rule that you can only bill one way for these trips. Of course, you have to go both ways." He called the rule arbitrary but said it is one of the regulations.

Asked whether any fraud was involved, Kroll said, "The bottom line is we weren't able to come up with evidence of criminal wrongdoing.