Report: Maryland ambulance firm tried to raise rates due to COVID-19

The city of Baltimore has declined to pay an additional $637,000 to an ambulance company accused in a report of trying to raise its rates because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hart to Heart Transportation won a five-year, $33 million contract with the city beginning in late June 2018 to provide medical transportation for Medicaid clients, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

Under the terms, the price the city pays for the service cannot change during the five-year period. But the city’s inspector general reported that the vendor contacted the city in May to increase its rate to cover a variety of costs, including additional training caused by the pandemic.

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If the increase had been approved, Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming estimated it would have cost the city an additional $637,322.40 for the remainder of the contract, which is set to expire on June 30, 2023.

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The report issued Wednesday didn’t name the vendor. Cumming declined to identify the company that was the subject of her office’s report, but the start and end dates for the contract described by her office match that of Hart to Heart’s contract on Baltimore’s CitiBuy procurement website.

Also, the report said the company received a $1 million federal Paycheck Protection Program loan this spring before requesting the additional payment from the city; federal records show Hart to Heart was approved for such a loan in the range of $1 million to $2 million.

Hart to Heart didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.