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State News

April 19, 2014

Around the State

Oklahoma City — Hospice owner, manager charged with Medicare fraud

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A hospice in Chandler, its owner and the general manager have been charged in a 39-count federal indictment with defrauding Medicare.

U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said Thursday that Prairie View Hospice, owner Paula Kluding and manager Patricia Carter are each charged with conspiracy, obstruction of a federal audit and making false statements in health care matter.

Defense attorneys did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Coats says the hospice, through Kluding and Carter, concealed the true medical condition of patients in order to pass a Medicare audit and receive Medicare reimbursements for patient care.

Hospice care consists of health care, medication, medical equipment and other services to terminally ill patients.

 

Oklahoma House’s top Democrat: No time for tax cut

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House’s top Democrat says critical state education and transportation needs coupled with declining tax revenue means the timing is not right to pass an income tax cut this year.

Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Oklahoma City made the comments shortly after the House adjourned on Thursday. Proposals to reduce the state’s 5.25 percent top income tax rate by a quarter of a percentage point once revenues improve are expected to be considered by the Legislature next week.

Inman says educators have asked lawmakers to restore budget cuts that have trimmed $200 million from public school budgets in recent years. And lawmakers want to increase funding for road and bridge repairs.

Inman says those goals cannot be achieved as long as lawmakers continue to cut back on revenue.

 

Judges question attorneys at gay marriage hearing

DENVER (AP) — A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role in deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States sharply questioned whether Oklahoma can legally prevent the marriages.

Jerome Holmes is one of three judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who heard arguments from attorneys Thursday about the state’s gay marriage ban. A lower court overturned the ban.

Holmes indicated during the hearing that states cannot define marriage in a way that would “trample constitutional rights.”

His line of questioning could be good news for gay marriage advocates because Holmes is viewed as the swing vote on the panel.

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