Medicaid chief slams Hood over $27M fraud case

JACKSON – Bob Robinson, the director of the Division of Medicaid, on Wednesday accused Attorney General Jim Hood of not prosecuting Medicaid fraud cases.
Robinson cited one health care provider who he said “milked” Medicaid out of $24 million, but Hood “wouldn’t get in there” and prosecute the person.
“We need some help to get that money,” said Robinson, who didn’t identify the provider.
Robinson made his comments while presenting his funding request for the upcoming fiscal year to the Legislative Budget Committee.
“You guys need to move that out of the A.G.’s office and let us go after them,” said Robinson, adding he would ensure the money was recouped and that people were held responsible.
He said the fraud involved billings to the Division of Medicaid for behavioral health services provided to Medicaid providers.
When told of Robinson’s comments, Hood said his agency is trying to recover funds associated with the Tri-Lake Medical Center in Batesville, which has been in bankruptcy court this summer.
“Bob Robinson ought to resign as director of the Division of Medicaid,” Hood said. “His management has allowed a small hospital to get $24 million ahead of the state without auditing that facility. Imagine what a large facility could do.
“Secondly, when the facility went into bankruptcy, he was trying to give them more money. We went to court to try to stop them and to protect the taxpayers.”
Hood said Robinson has the authority and the responsibility to audit payments made to medical providers and he never did.
“The Legislature should have hearings on this,” he said. “We’re trying to pursue civil and possibly criminal charges against the operators of the facility.”
During the hearing, Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said to Robinson, “You are my friend, but I don’t believe” no one would pursue criminal charges if someone defrauded the state and federal government for $24 million.
McCoy cited the U.S. Attorney’s office, the state attorney general’s office and local district attorneys as possibilities to handle the case.
“These are serious charges,” McCoy said. “I am going to pursue them.”

Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal