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Indiana taxpayers ripped off in horrifying scheme that targeted poor pregnant women

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A federal whistleblower lawsuit accuses Indiana’s largest health provider of ripping off taxpayers while shuttling poor pregnant women to substandard care, IndyStar reports.

The lawsuit claims that IU Health and HealthNet, a IU Health affiliate that serves poor patients through eight inner-city clinics, shunted high-risk pregnant women to nurse midwives, while billing them as though doctors had treated them. Also named in the lawsuit is MDwise, a local care insurer that processed many of the claims by HealthNet’s patients.

Dr. Judith Robinson, a former employee of HealthNet who filed the lawsuit, claims she raised questions about patient safety at HealthNet in 2013 and was subsequently fired.

In an email Robinson sent to her employers in spring 2013, cited in the lawsuit, Robinson raised concerns about a “broken system” and identified 14 cases where the lives of the mother and/or baby were endangered, and two with “terrible outcomes” within a six to eight-month period.

In response, HealthNet Chief Medical Officer Donald Trainor said her request to fix the problem was “premature,” according to the lawsuit.

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Shortly after that, Robinson was fired.

“Why is it that it seems to be OK to have this population of indigent patients … get less care? It is just not right,” Robinson said in an interview. State policy does not allow nurse midwives to provide services to medically high-risk pregnant patients on Medicaid.

“I went to everybody and anybody I could because I was concerned about these patients,” said Robinson.

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The three organizations have all benefited financially while putting the lives of high-risk, low-income pregnant women and their babies in danger, according to the lawsuit.

Trainor explained in an email in 2011 included in the suit that the reasoning  behind employing more nurse midwives than obstetrician-gynecologists was “largely financial.” He continued to say in the email that while midwives are paid one-third to one-half as much as doctors, HealthNet is “paid the same amount by Medicaid (our primary payor) regardless who provides the care.”

In 2010, according to the lawsuit, midwives’ average salary was $108,632, while that of a doctor was $349,976.

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This is not the first case of hospital bilking Medicaid. In similar cases, Columbia University paid a $5.1 million fine in 2002 and New York University Downtown Hospital paid $2.1 million two years later.

The three organizations face up to $100 million in penalties and fines should they lose in court.


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Former FBI Director James Comey outlines the burning questions he’d ask Robert Mueller

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Former FBI Director James Comey has written a lengthy post at the Lawfare blog outlining the most important questions that Democrats need to ask of former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Although many of the questions outlined by Comey are simply asking Mueller to rehash the findings of his final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he does ask some questions designed to get Mueller to offer up his own analysis of President Donald Trump's actions, such as, "Did you find substantial evidence that the president had committed obstruction of justice crimes?" and "Did you reach a judgment as to whether the president had committed obstruction of justice crimes?"

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Republican running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had lavished praise on her great leadership

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Only one year after her historic victory over Rep. Joe Crowley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might face a challenger.

The New York Daily News reports that a Queens Republican who used to support AOC is mounting an election bid to unseat Ocasio-Cortez.

Scherie Murray is a Jamaican immigrant who lives in Queens. She runs an advertising company and identifies as a Republican, the News reports. Murray, in announcing her challenge, accused Ocasio-Cortez of seeking fame at the expense of her constituents.

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Ivanka bashed by CNN guest for jumping into Trump’s racism scandal late and trying to make herself look good

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Appearing on CNN, the author of a piece in The Atlantic on Ivanka Trump's disappearing act whenever her father, President Donald Trump, does something offensive, said the first daughter likes to pick her spots when she can be "part of the show."

Speaking with CNN host Ana Cabrera, journalist Elaina Plott said Ivanka's influence on her father has been overstated since the beginning of his presidency and she moves into the public eye when it benefits her.

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