[Audrey Ferguson, 51, of Charleston, S.C., knows how to live in style. When she wants to go downtown, she takes a limo. Each ride costs a cool $425.
But it’s not her money that she spends. And it’s not really a limo either. It’s an ambulance dispatched by the local EMS.
Charleston TV station WCSC (h/t Special Report with Bret Baier) reports that Ferguson has called 911 at least 100 times in the last seven years, complaining that she was ill and needed to get to a hospital. Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren explained to reporters:
She’ll have a vague medical complaint, for instance abdominal pain. She has medical complaints that are legitimate, and so until she’s been evaluated and determined not to be sick we have to assume she is.
We transport her to one of the area hospitals and then oftentimes before we can get our paperwork completed she’s signed out from the hospital and gone on to do other things.
[A video capture of the news report is here]
Sensing a pattern of abuse, Warren called the sheriff’s office and asked for an investigation. This marked the beginning of the end of Ferguson’s free rides. The last of them came on Apr. 2, when she was escorted to the county jail. There she was charged with unlawful use of 911 and filing a false police report.
Once confronted with the reality that the authorities were on to her, she confessed to gaming the system. She didn’t have a car, she told police, and this was the only way she had to get around. Besides, she said, Medicaid paid for it anyway, so what was all the fuss about?
The answer her to her rhetorically intended question is that Medicaid doesn’t cover 100 percent of the cost of her trips. The balance, footed by taxpayers, comes out to more than $400,000.
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