FWA (AR)- Hospital agrees to pay $1.1 million in Medicaid fraud settlement


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[MM Curator Summary]: The conclusion of the Brian Hyatt story- turns out his egregious upcoding for BH services added up to about $1.1M of your tax dollars.


Clipped from: https://www.5newsonline.com/article/news/crime/medicaid-fraud-settlement-dr-hyatt/527-669584d9-f4d2-4ae5-bc61-2dbfbe677667

SPRINGDALE, Arkansas — Northwest Health has reached a settlement with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office after an investigation found evidence claiming Dr. Brian Hyatt, former head of the behavioral unit in Springdale, had committed extensive Medicaid fraud.

Dr. Hyatt stepped down from his role as chair of the Arkansas State Medical Board after he was accused in an affidavit by investigators with the AG’s office.

Hyatt, formerly the chairman of the state medical board, said in an email on March 1, 2023, that he would like to “step aside” as chairman and “move to a non-executive committee, voting member… until standing issues resolve.”

Dr. Hyatt was appointed by former governor Asa Hutchinson in 2019, according to his practice’s website bio. 

In the $1.1 million settlement, Northwest denies it knew it violated the Arkansas False Claims Act. The hospital terminated its contract with Hyatt in May 2022 after lawsuits were filed against him and the hospital.

The payments cover nearly 250 “concerning” Medicaid claims made by Hyatt during his tenure at the Northwest Behavioral Unit in Springdale.

Alleged Medicaid fraud

The Office of Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) sent a letter to Dr. Hyatt on Feb. 24, 2023, stating that allegations of Medicaid fraud that were made against him were deemed credible. OMIG said that Medicaid services performed by Dr. Hyatt were suspended.

According to the investigation, Hyatt had billed more Medicaid recipients using the highest code than any other doctor had billed for all of their patients in the state.

The investigation notes that between Jan. 1, 2019, and May 2022, 99.95% of Dr. Hyatt’s claims for Medicaid were billed under the highest code, which receives the most amount of Medicaid payment from the state.

For reference, the document states that between that same timeframe, on average nationally, only about 21% of Medicaid billing was for the highest code.

The Attorney General’s office says that employees in the unit were told by Hyatt to always bill the highest code with each patient.

While going over months of surveillance video of the behavioral unit while Hyatt was the director there, the investigator said that after reviewing hundreds of hours and several days of footage, at no point did they see Dr. Hyatt enter a patient’s room or have contact with a patient, only him walk up and down the hall.

Dr. Hyatt also is facing nearly a dozen lawsuits in civil court claiming false imprisonment and other accusations relating to allegedly keeping them in the behavior unit as long as possible in order to obtain more Medicaid funding.

Lawsuits alleging false imprisonment

Dr. Hyatt became the medical director of the behavior unit at Northwest Medical Center in Springdale from Jan. 2018 until May 2022 when his contract was “abruptly terminated by the hospital,” the investigation states.

During that time, a lawsuit was filed against Dr. Hyatt and the hospital, claiming that a woman who had accidentally overdosed on Tylenol and was subsequently kept in the unit against her will.

The woman suing Dr. Hyatt said she’d expressed to employees that she wanted to leave but was told that if she tried to leave they would take her to court to get her to stay longer because “the judge always sided with Dr. Hyatt.”

The lawsuit alleges that a judge had issued a court order to require Northwest Medical to release the woman. 

Dr. Hyatt reportedly had gone to the woman’s room that day and said “he and Northwest would see her lawyer in court and that when she lost in court she would never be able to get a job,” the lawsuit alleges.

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