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The sound of justice: A whistleblower lawsuit

Millions of Americans depend on Medicaid for health coverage. Benefits help eligible low-income adults, children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, the joint federal and state program is often targeted by unscrupulous operators eager for a slice of Medicaid's more than $300 billion budget.

We read recently about a Texas health care system and hospital owner that has agreed to pay $12.2 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the company made illegal payments to county governments over an eight-year period. Christus Health was accused in the lawsuit of violating "the False Claims Act by making illegal donations to county governments, which were used to fund the state share of Medicaid payments to the hospital," the Department of Justice said in a statement.

Under a now discontinued New Mexico program, supplemental Medicaid funds were provided to hospitals in mostly rural communities. The federal government reimbursed the state for about 75 percent of its expenditures under the program, while the remaining 25 percent of outlays were to be shouldered by New Mexico and counties. But Christus Health made impermissible "donations" to cover those costs, the lawsuit said.

An Associated Press article on the agreement notes that the federal government joined a 2011 whistleblower suit filed by a former county official. Though she died last year, her estate will receive approximately $2.4 million of the settlement.

Some people will simply not ignore corruption. With the help of a qualified attorney, they fight fraud and deceit by filing a lawsuit under the False Claims Act on behalf of the government.

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