Late Mountain Home Doctor May Have Crafted Largest Medicare Fraud in State's History: $14.7M

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 12:00 am  

While fraud against government insurance programs can come at any level, the fraud that is prosecuted tends to be by providers rather than beneficiaries. For instance, of the seven cases of fraud against Medicaid, the joint federal and state insurance program for the poor, that Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced since May, only one alleges fraud by a beneficiary.

‘Lifelong Dream’

Born Oct. 20, 1949, in Alma, Ga., Stacey Johnson’s “lifelong dream was to become a physician,” according to the obituary posted online by Roller Funeral Home in Mountain Home.

After receiving his medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1975, Johnson completed a residency program in internal medicine and then a fellowship in cardiology in Dallas.

Stacey and Cynthia Johnson met in Texas and were married in 1976. After he completed his training, they started looking for a place to practice.

He wanted to live in a small town and she wanted to live on a lake. They found the right combination in Mountain Home, Cynthia Johnson said.

In 1980, Dr. Johnson started his private practice in internal medicine and cardiology and opened the Physicians’ Medical Center of the Ozarks in 1982.

The first signs of trouble surfaced between 1985 and 1990, when Dr. Johnson was counseled by Medicare “for conducting excessive tests on patients,” Cynthia Johnson told investigators in 2010, according to an affidavit filed in the forfeiture case by Thomas Kowalski, a special agent with the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General.

She told Arkansas Business that questions about over-testing dogged Dr. Johnson for years.

“There were times when I would say to him, ‘Stacey, can you just not order quite so many follow-up tests,’” Cynthia Johnson said last week. “And he would look at me and say, ‘Are you the doctor?’”

She said he didn’t order the tests for the money. Instead, Cynthia Johnson told Kowalski in 2010, Dr. Johnson had an undiagnosed disorder that caused him to attempt to find anything that could be wrong with a patient.

The early 1990s was a rough time for Dr. Johnson. The first of what would be more than two dozen complaints involving over-testing was filed against him at the state Medical Board, though no action was taken against him for many years.



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