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Search conducted by federal authorities of Rogers psychiatrist Hyatt’s office

by Tracy Neal | May 25, 2023 at 5:30 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- Federal authorities on Tuesday searched the office of a Rogers psychiatrist who was suspended from the Arkansas Medicaid program earlier this year, a U.S. attorney said.

Agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency searched Dr. Brian Hyatt's office, according to Clay Fowlkes, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Fowlkes said the investigation is ongoing, and he could not provide any other information. He said the execution of a search warrant is an important step in a lengthy, ongoing investigation.

Hyatt was chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board until he stepped down March 2.

All payments for Medicaid services to Hyatt were suspended by the Office of Medicaid Inspector General, according to a Feb. 24 letter the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. The office determined there was a "credible allegation of fraud" against Hyatt.

A Pulaski County circuit judge granted a search warrant for Hyatt's phone records Jan. 17.

The attorney general's office was contacted in April 2022 by a whistleblower from the behavioral health unit of Northwest Medical Center in Springdale, according to the warrant affidavit.

Hyatt had been the medical director of the unit since January 2018. His contract with the medical center was "abruptly terminated" in May 2022, the affidavit states.

Investigators with the attorney general's office watched hundreds of hours of surveillance video from the behavioral unit and didn't see Hyatt enter a patient's room or make direct contact with a patient, the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, "red flags" were identified during an analysis of Hyatt's Medicaid claims and use of evaluation and management coding, which is used to bill medical services.

"Subsequent hospital care" codes like 99231, 99232 and 99233 are the most commonly billed codes, each paying a progressively higher rate, according to the affidavit. More complicated cases with patients who are unstable or are developing a new problem are indicated by a 99233 code, the affidavit states.

Between January 2019 and June 30, 2022, Hyatt billed more Medicaid patients at the 99233 code than any other doctor billed for all of their Medicaid patients, the affidavit states.

Criminal charges haven't been filed against Hyatt.

Then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Hyatt to the State Medical Board in January 2019. Hyatt was later elected chairman. His current term on the board was to expire Dec. 31, 2024.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Hyatt accusing him of unlawfully holding patients within the Northwest Medical Center Springdale behavioral health unit in order to fraudulently bill their private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or other insurance carrier for alleged care and treatment that was not provided, according to one lawsuit.

Print Headline: Federal authorities search psychiatrist’s office


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