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story.lead_photo.caption Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services LLC in Hot Springs. - Photo by Amanda Claire Curcio

A Hot Springs child day care provider is at the center of a state-led investigation after the day care's therapy director accused a top employee of insurance fraud.

The state attorney general's office is leading a probe into Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services LLC, focusing on past questionable billing practices targeting the Arkansas Medicaid program.

Officials did not confirm the extent of the potential fraud or whether the case involved overbilling or charging for visits that didn't happen.

In a prepared statement released Tuesday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she was "committed to protecting all Arkansans" and that she encouraged anyone with concerns or those wishing to make a complaint about the day care to contact her office.

Tonashae Echols, Little Bitty City's therapy director, said she called the authorities when she noticed billing discrepancies last October. She said she continues to work with investigators.

Echols also said she promptly notified parents and "anyone we ever billed" about the problem and requested that state officials lead additional billing audits.

Further review linked the discrepancies to a day care administrator who was then fired, she said.

"We are working diligently to take care of it," Echols added. "I don't know anything else we could have done. We're trying to move forward as a company, to move forward with the things we are supposed to be doing."

After speaking with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the director released a prepared statement saying that she couldn't comment further on the investigation because it was still "an ongoing process."

"We are looking forward to being able to speak in the future," the statement reads. "This has not been taken lightly."

As of August, Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services works with about 328 families in Howard, Miller, Little River, Garland and Sevier counties through Head Start, a federal early-childhood development program aimed at promoting school readiness and social and emotional development for children from low-income families.

The company also partners with the Little Bitty City Enrichment Center, based in Hot Springs.

The center has a clean record, according to state Department of Human Services files. No complaints have been filed against the facility, nor have there been any cited regulations during inspections. The department's Child Care Licensing last visited the day care on Dec. 20, 2017, state records show.

The day care center opened in 2010 and offers services, such as therapy and behavioral interventions, to infants and young children with developmental disabilities.

Metro on 02/21/2018

Print Headline: Day care billing of Medicaid reviewed

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