Little Rock Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud, Admits to $2.2 Million in Fradulent Billing
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, David Shepard, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Agent in Charge CJ Porter of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services–Office of Inspector General (HHS–OIG) announced that Dr. Robert Barrow, 62, of Little Rock, pled guilty today to conspiring to commit health care fraud before U.S. District Court Judge J. Leon Holmes.
Dr. Barrow owned and operated a Little Rock medical clinic named “Your Doctor’s Office.” At today’s hearing, Dr. Barrow admitted that he conspired with Billy Marc Young, a local massage therapist. Dr. Barrow referred patients to Young and Young’s services were subsequently billed to health insurers under Dr. Barrow’s provider number as if they were physical therapy—even at times when Dr. Barrow himself was out of the state or out of the country in places like Las Vegas, Hawaii, and London. Bills to health insurers ultimately surpassed $2.2 million. In the plea agreement, Dr. Barrow admitted that he abused his position of trust and that his scheme victimized health insurers and former patients alike in that some former patients bore out-of-pocket expenses (for example, co-payments) believing that they were receiving physical therapy.
Young previously pled guilty in April 2014 in connection with Dr. Barrow’s scheme in case number 4:14-cr-00056 DPM.
“Our healthcare system relies on trust,” Thyer said. “Insurers process millions upon millions of claims each year on good faith. Doctors and other providers who abuse this trust by submitting fraudulent claims for services that are not properly reimbursable or not provided place the entire system in jeopardy and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Dr. Barrow’s theft from his patients not only deprived his patients of their money, but also their faith—and the public’s faith—in the health care system,” Shepard said. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s resolve to work with our partners at HHS-OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s office to stamp out health care fraud.”
“The scam perpetrated by Dr. Barrow defrauded Medicare and private insurers, and it also deprived patients of proper health care,” Porter said. “HHS–OIG is dedicated to aggressively investigating this type of criminal activity because of the impact on quality of care and the health care economy as a whole.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Dr. Barrow is required to pay $702,361.12 in restitution to Medicare and Blue Cross (less what Young pays) and up to $100,000 to former patients who bore out-of-pocket expenses believing that they were receiving physical therapy. In exchange, the United States has agreed to dismiss all remaining charges against Dr. Barrow and his wife, Dr. Angela Barrow.
Conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and not more than three years’ supervised. Sentencing before Judge Holmes will follow at a later date.
The case was the result of a multi-year joint investigation by the FBI and HHS-OIG. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alex Morgan and Shannon Smith.