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Hospital kickback suit joined by state

ATLANTA — Two large hospital operators paid kickbacks to clinics that directed expectant mothers living in the country illegally to their hospitals and filed fraudulent Medicaid claims on those patients, a federal whistleblower lawsuit unsealed Wednesday said.

The state of Georgia has joined the lawsuit to recover state Medicaid funds.

The suit says Health Management Asso­ciates and Tenet Healthcare Corp. and their affiliates entered into contracts with clinics operated by Hispanic Medical Management and Clinica de la Mama and their affiliates, the lawsuit says. The clinics then referred pregnant women living in the country without authorization to for-profit hospitals operated by HMA and Tenet in exchange for kickbacks from fraudulent Medicaid claims, the lawsuit says.

An HMA representative said in an e-mail that the company does not comment on pending litigation. Tenet issued a statement on behalf of its hospitals named in the lawsuit saying it believes the agreements were appropriate.

Town on alert after officer spots bear

NELSON, GA. — Officials in the north Georgia town of Nelson are warning residents to “bear-proof” their properties after the police chief had a run-in with a black bear.

Nelson residents should be on guard after recent calls about bears at houses and reports of missing cats and kittens, City Manager Brandy Edwards said.

Bears are believed to be moving into the town roughly 50 miles north of Atlanta in search of food to fatten up for the winter.

About two weeks ago, Nelson Police Chief Heath Mitchell confronted one bear that made itself at home on a porch and was rummaging through the garbage. Mitchell said he tried to run it off – but the bear turned and growled, walking closer toward him. The bear eventually ran away.

Adoption finalized for Cherokee girl

COLUMBIA — A state judge Wednesday finalized a couple’s adoption of a 3-year-old girl of Cherokee heritage, ruling that the child should be moved from her home in Oklahoma.

The ruling by a family court judge in Charleston is far from the final legal action in a complicated case that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Matt and Melanie Capo­bianco, hand-picked by the girl’s birth mother to adopt her, raised Veronica for two years and have sought to adopt her since birth. But the girl’s biological father, a member of the Cherokee Nation who had never met his daughter, challenged that adoption, arguing that federal law favored the girl being raised by him and in cultural traditions. The nation’s top court ruled this year that South Carolina’s courts should decide what happens to the girl.


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