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  

On March 31, 2009, Principal Life Insurance Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, which had policyholders who were treated by Johnson, filed a complaint with the Arkansas State Medical Board. It said Dr. Johnson’s “excessive testing both invasive and noninvasive is not within the standard of care and potentially dangerous to the patient.”

It also said that after reviewing 10 medical records of Johnson’s patients, it “identified, what we feel, are serious concerns regarding the outcome of those reviews.”

The concerns were that the tests performed “are far in excess of what is justified by the patient’s problems,” the letter said. And many of the tests posed “significant unnecessary risks to the patients,” the letter said.

In 2009, the Medical Board had other doctors review Johnson’s patient files. What they found troubled them. Dr. Donald Meacham of Little Rock told the board that a 39-year-old patient had 92 tests, of which only six were appropriate.

“I believe this does rise to the level of gross negligence or ignorant malpractice,” Meacham wrote.

The board found that Johnson’s behavior “is a danger to the public health, safety, and welfare” and issued an emergency order of suspension on Aug. 17, 2009.

He would try but would never get his license back.

‘I Greatly Miss Medicine’

While investigators continued to look into Johnson’s overbilling, he was devastated by the loss of his practice.

“I greatly miss Medicine,” Johnson wrote in an April 2012 letter to Dr. Bob Cogburn of Mountain Home, a member of the Medical Board. “Medicine is the only thing I know how to do. … I hate to see 13 years [of] training and 29 years [of] experience go down the drain.”

Apparently, the more than $8 million Johnson received in the form of salary, dividends and other income between April 1999 and January 2009 was gone.

In his letter to Cogburn, Johnson blamed his financial troubles on his ex-wife, who he said used his money “to build her ostentatious lake house, and left me and my Practice in heavy debt. I will soon need to go on public relief or get a job at McDonalds; is this something you want to see happen to a fellow physician?”



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