ST. LOUIS — A woman who spent months working as a nurse at a St. Louis hospital and teaching nursing at a New Mexico college admitted on Thursday that she’d lied about her nursing credentials and work experience.

Samantha Rivera, 36, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to health care fraud and identity theft.

In September 2016, Rivera used the name and license number of a New Mexico nurse with a similar name to apply for a job with a St. Louis area staffing agency, identified in court documents as ATC Healthcare Services.

She claimed to have worked in a New Mexico hospital and to have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy McMurtry said during the plea hearing Thursday. Rivera was then placed at St. Alexius Hospital, where she worked as a nurse in the intensive care unit and a geriatric psych ward.

When her contract was not extended in February, McMurtry said she applied for a job with a Chicago staffing agency, making the same false claims about her education and background, McMurtry said.

After McMurtry detailed Rivera’s activities in court, U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey asked Rivera, “Are all of these facts true and correct?”

“Yes, your honor,” she responded.

Rivera could face 10 to 16 months in federal prison under recommended guidelines when sentenced Jan. 17.

Rivera told Autrey that she has never graduated from college, and that she was diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder in high school.

McMurtry said Rivera never graduated from nursing school, has never been licensed as a nurse and has not been certified in any life support or medical support capacities.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Trump meets with Janet Yellen as decision on next Fed chair nears

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met at the White House on Thursday with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as he neared a decision on who will lead the central bank after her first four-year term ends in February.

Yellen, 71, a Democrat nominated to the job by former President Barack Obama, is one of five candidates and was the last to meet with Trump, a White House official said.

Trump told reporters this week he was nearing a decision on a job that could have a major influence on his efforts to boost economic growth by reshaping the world’s most powerful central bank.

“I would say within those five you’ll probably get the answer,” Trump said Tuesday. “And I’ll be making the decision over the next fairly short period of time.”

The other candidates Trump reportedly is considering are more conservative: Fed governor Jerome Powell, Stanford economist John Taylor, former Fed governor Kevin Warsh and top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn.

Trump’s chance to reshape the Federal Reserve could be his biggest economic legacy

Asked which candidate was his favorite, Trump said, “Honestly, I like them all. … I have a great respect for all of them.”

Yellen, a former University of California at Berkeley economics professor, became the first woman to lead the century-old Fed when Obama tapped her in 2013.

Under Yellen’s leadership, the Fed has been slowly raising its benchmark interest rate, a strategy opposed by many conservatives.

Taylor and Warsh would be inclined to raise interest rates faster in an attempt to head off potential inflation, while the policies of Powell and Cohn are unclear. Powell, a member of the Fed’s monetary policymaking committee, has supported Yellen’s interest rate strategy.

Trump probably is pleased that the rate remains historically low because that provides additional stimulus to the economy. He described himself in 2016 as a “low-interest person.”

But Trump also wants to scale back some of the stricter financial regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. Yellen has strongly backed most of those rules while the other candidates are likely to favor reducing them.

—Los Angeles Times


Senators push forward with bipartisan Obamacare fix — and Trump’s encouragement

WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump’s mixed messages, key senators unveiled their bipartisan plan Thursday to stabilize health insurance markets, drawing widespread support.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health committee, and the top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, jointly announced 22 bipartisan co-sponsors to their effort, more than typical for a bill.

Alexander noted that Trump, too, continued to encourage him to push forward. The president called the senator twice Wednesday, even after speaking critically of the plan.

“I want to thank him for his encouragement,” Alexander said.

Eleven Republican and 11 Democratic senators joined in backing their bill, which would extend for two years federal payments to insurers that offset subsidies they must offer to help low-income Americans. In exchange, Republicans want to make it easier for insurers to offer cheaper plans and those that deviate from certain regulations.

Trump has cut off the payments but told Alexander he would be willing to reinstate them, the senator said.

The compromise also has drawn support from more than two dozen groups representing health care advocates, patients and providers.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


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