An administrative law judge on Monday upheld Arkansas’ suspension of Medicaid payments to a Missouri-based mental health services and substance abuse treatment provider with 47 locations in the state.

Arkansas Medicaid Inspector General Elizabeth Smith suspended the payments to Preferred Family Healthcare on June 29 after a former executive with the organization was arrested in the improper billing of almost $2.3 million in claims for mental health services.

Preferred Family Healthcare of Springfield appealed the suspension, leading to the ruling Monday by administrative law judge Vicki Pickering.

“The law is clear that a State Medicaid agency MUST suspend Medicaid payments upon the determination of a credible allegation of fraud,” Pickering wrote.

Preferred Family Healthcare spokesman Reginald McElhannon said in an email that the organization is “reviewing the decision and its impact.”

A federal investigation involving Preferred Family has led to the conviction of four former state lawmakers. One of the company’s former lobbyists, who was also a director of its Arkansas operations, pleaded guilty last month to a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme in Arkansas.

Read Tuesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Judge upholds Arkansas’ suspension of Medicaid payments to provider