A whale of a story in this week’s Arkansas Business by Mark Friedman.
It says defrocked physician Stacey Johnson of Mountain Home, who died earlier this year, was target of a federal investigation that indicated he’d overcharged Medicare by more than $14 million in his cardiology practice. He lost his license for excessive and risky testing of patients. His practice had drawn adverse scrutiny for years before his license finally was jerked.
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.
The story is rich with detail. It includes a defense of the doctor from his divorced wife, Cynthia, who once worked in his office. She recently paid $600,000 to hang onto a mansion they’d owned. The government was seeking it in a civil forfeiture proceeding. She said she’d been given immunity by prosecutors and will be talking to them.
Remember this story the next time certain members of the legislature or Congress tell you what we really need to combat medical fraud are tougher income verification rules for recipients (that is if the government pays for poor people at all). The big scams are on the provider end.