CEO fires back after clinics accused of recruiting pregnant patients for hospitals

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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ATLANTA —

Channel 2 Action News is getting answers from the clinics accused of helping hospitals recruit pregnant patients to bring in hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

We exposed the whistleblower lawsuit making the explosive allegations this week.

The clinics' CEO, Ed Cota, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant to him the whistleblower's claims in the complaint don't make any sense.

"I was just completely blown away because we opened in May of 1998 and never had any issues," Cota said.

Cota is the CEO of several clinic that are fighting back against a lawsuit claiming the clinics were part of an elaborate contract scheme allegedly orchestrated by several of Georgia's best known for-profit hospitals to illegally funnel in pregnant Hispanic women, many undocumented.

"We never steered anyone, we never sent anyone. It was the patient-doctor relationship that determined where that patient was going to go," Cota told Diamant.

Former Walton Regional Medical Center CFO Bill Williams said he blew the whistle on behalf of taxpayers alleging the hospitals raked in tens of millions of dollars over the last decade in emergency Medicaid payouts for deliveries.

"This is an illegal agreement, it is a kickback situation," Williams said.

"It's not only a fraud against the taxpayer, it's a fraud against all hospitals who would ordinarily be getting that patient population," Williams' attorney Marlan Wilbanks told Channel 2 Action News.

But COTA said all of the women who come to his clinics do so voluntarily, pay a one-time fee for prenatal care the first time they show up, and see whichever doctor is working that day.

From that point on,they see the same doctor.

"They will go where ever he goes. Not where I say, not where you say. No, my doctor is here, this is where I'm going," Cota said.

Cota said the clinics named in the lawsuit only contract with the hospital for translation services and to help the women fill out the emergency Medicaid application.

"Every time we've had to renew the contract, attorneys reviewed it to make sure that we were in the scope of the law," Cota said.

The lawsuit also alleges in many cases the translation services never happened, though Cota said he has the records to prove it.

Either way, the Georgia Attorney General has now signed onto the case. We'll keep you posted on how all this plays out in court.