A Little Rock man has been charged with scamming almost $2.3 million from the Arkansas Medicaid program, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Friday, and his former employer has been suspended as a Medicaid provider in Arkansas.
Robin Raveendran, 62, formerly worked for the Missouri mental health provider at the center of corruption scandals in two states. Preferred Family Healthcare says he was terminated in 2017.
In a press release, Rutledge said Raveendran, was a "known Medicaid expert" who "knew how to exploit the program." He is accused of coordinating an scheme in which PFH was reimbursed for 20,109 illegally billed mental health services between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 19, 2017.
Raveendran was arrested Thursday evening by agents with the AG's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and booked into the Independence County jail. He had been released by Friday afternoon.
Preferred Family Healthcare is the Springfield, Missouri, nonprofit that has operated dozens of mental health clinics in Arkansas under the names Dayspring, Alternative Opportunities and Decision Point and received tens of millions of dollars from Medicaid in four states. Former state Rep. Micah Neal pleaded guilty and former state Sen. Jon Woods was convicted on federal charges of accepting kickbacks from PFH through a former executive and lobbyist, Rusty Cranford, who has also pleaded guilty to corruption charges.
In related cases brought by federal prosecutors in Missouri, former Jefferson County Judge Henry Wilkins IV pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Cranford, and former state Rep. Eddie Cooper, who worked for PFH in Arkansas, pleaded guilty to embezzling from the company.
Two other PFH executives have pleaded guilty to embezzlement in Missouri, and most of the former executive team has been implicated in the scandal.
But not until Friday, when state charges were announced against Raveendran, was PFH suspended as a Medicaid provider.
“When a credible allegation of Medicaid fraud exists, suspension of Medicaid payments is required by federal law,” said Medicaid Inspector General Elizabeth Smith. “I am carrying out my responsibilities as Medicaid Inspector General to protect the integrity of the Arkansas Medicaid program by issuing these suspensions.”
Reginald McElhannon, spokesman for PFH, issued a statement saying the company has been cooperating with the investigation and is
"Sadly, these charges show a concerted effort to deceive PFH by Rusty Cranford and a small group of former leaders, who are no longer employed because of those actions. We understand this is an ongoing process and likely not the last action taken against former employees and vendors. We continue to cooperate with authorities as they follow the facts and the evidence, including information we are providing.
"The alleged actions of Mr. Raveendran do not reflect the values of PFH. While we cannot change the past misdeeds of others, we are committed to a new path forward by continuing to implement new and thorough processes and procedures. We are grateful to the more than 4,000 employees who continue to provide critical services to individuals throughout Arkansas and the four other states we serve."