- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The owner of two mental health companies wants an Arkansas agency to change its mind about the facilities’ status as Medicaid providers.

The state’s Department of Human Services suspended Trinity Behavioral Health Care and Maxus Inc. a day after it identified owner Ted Suhl and accused him of giving bribes to an ex-deputy department director. The agency sent letters to the facilities Oct. 8, saying that they would no longer receive Medicaid payments for any new claims, citing a “credible allegation of fraud.”

It said Medicaid claims by the firms’ existing patients would still be paid for up to 30 days to give them time to find new providers, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1w8pOu0 ).

Former deputy director Steven B. Jones pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy and bribery charges concerning programs that receive federal funds. He admitted to receiving bribes from a business owner in exchange for using his position to benefit the owner’s two companies, federal officials said. The Arkansas Department of Human Services identified Suhl as the business owner who was involved in the bribery scheme.

Suhl has denied any wrongdoing and is requesting the department make a decision within seven days about reinstating the Medicaid status of the companies. His attorney, Michael Scotti, said Suhl will wait for the agency’s answer before appealing the suspensions.

Department officials have said the suspensions will end whenever the department or prosecutors determine there’s not enough evidence of fraud or whenever legal proceedings related to suspected fraud are done. Scotti said there’s been no “credible allegation of fraud” against the two mental health companies.

Trinity Behavioral Health Care is an inpatient facility for youths in Warm Springs. Maxus Inc., which operates under the name Arkansas Counseling Associates, provides outpatient care for youths and adults throughout Arkansas.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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