ATLANTA (AP) — 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.

Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates and Dallas-based 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.

Paying for or accepting money to arrange for medical treatment under federally funded programs is prohibited by the Medicare and Medicaid Patient Protection Act, known as the anti-kickback statute.

An HMA representative said in an email that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

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