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The United States Department of Justice announced today that it has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit against Health Management Associates, Inc., the country's third-largest for-profit hospital chain, which operates 71 hospitals in 15 states. The lawsuit, filed by David Chizewer of Goldberg Kohn Ltd., alleges that HMA has, for years, intentionally and systematically admitted through its emergency rooms patients who did not need to be admitted, and then charged the government for those unnecessary admissions. 

Chizewer filed the lawsuit on behalf of a well-respected emergency room physician under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which encourage private citizens to report fraud against the government by allowing to sue on behalf of the government and receive a share of any recovery. The False Claims Act also allows the government to join and prosecute such lawsuits, as the Department of Justice elected to do in this case.