State medical board chair Dr. Brian Hyatt resigns, faces Medicaid fraud allegations

Dr. Brian Hyatt stepped down as chairman of the Arkansas State Medical Board Thursday in a special meeting following "credible allegations of fraud," noted in a letter from the state's office of Medicaid inspector general.

Members of the board met remotely Thursday with only one item on the agenda: "Discussion of Arkansas State Board's leadership."

The motion to approve Hyatt's request to step down as chairman and out of an executive role on the board was approved unanimously.

Board members also decided that Dr. Rhys Branman will take over as the interim chairman until an election to fill the seat is held in April.

According to the board Thursday, the vacant seats for vice chair and chair of the board will be voted on separate ballots in the April elections.

The Medicaid letter states "red flags" were discovered in Hyatt's use of Medicaid claims and process of billing for medical services. In Arkansas, Medicaid fraud resulting in an overpayment over $2,500 is a felony.

"Dr. Hyatt is a clear outlier, and his claims are so high they skew the averages on certain codes for the entire Medicaid program in Arkansas," the affidavit states.

"The suspension is temporary and there's a right to appeal. I see only allegations and I don't see any actual charges and I haven't dealt with this a lot," said Branman.

Hyatt has 30 days to appeal his suspension from the Medicaid program.

Other information from the letter shows that Hyatt is alleged to have billed more Medicaid patients at the 99233 code than any other doctor billed for all of their Medicaid patients between January of 2019 and June 30, 2022.

Another board member spoke Thursday, but did not identify himself, adding: "There's a process. He's going to go through the same process as everyone else and he's done the responsible thing of stepping aside as chair so that the board can continue to take care of the business we're supposed to without any distractions."

Branman joined the discussion, asking Dr. Sylvia Simon how the board has handled instances like this in the past.

"We get these [allegations] periodically that are issues with an insurance company, being thrown off of an insurance company or income tax evasion," Simon said. "Until they're convicted of a crime of some sort, we don't do anything with it except monitor the situation. If it's something that has resulted in arrest or could be a direct danger to patients like allegations of molesting patients in the office, substance abuse or things that would pose an immediate danger to patients or the public in general -- then you would consider something like an emergency order of suspension."

Hyatt, a Rogers psychiatrist, was appointed to the board in 2019 by former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hyatt has not been charged with any crimes.

The board said the investigation of Hyatt's allegations is ongoing and they will continue to monitor the situation.

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