Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody
decided this afternoon that Gilead Family Resource Center
, a McGehee-based mental healthcare provider we reported on previously
, must stop receiving Medicaid payments
as it decides whether to appeal a Department of Human Services (DHS) decision to terminate it from the state Medicaid program. Moody notified the interested parties of his ruling in a letter; an official order is expected later this week.
The decision means that Moody has reversed his own June 6 temporary restraining order allowing Gilead to receive Medicaid payments over the course of its appeal. The company, which is being sanctioned for billing irregularities and improper medical practices, was paid about $80,000 a week after Moody's original ruling. The state might attempt to recoup that money by adding it to the $815,807 it has already ordered Gilead to repay, but there has been no decision whether to do so.
Moody's ruling allows DHS to send a letter to Gilead's clients informing them of the decision to terminate. The letter says that Medicaid will no longer pay for Gilead's services and suggests DaySpring, Arkansas Counseling Associates, or Delta Counseling Associates as an alternative to Gilead.
While Moody's notification of the decision doesn't get into the legal basis for his conclusion, the judge was apparently impressed by the state's argument that the court has no jurisdiction until the company completes an administrative appeal through the DHS system. DHS lawyers also argued that Gilead's suit to restart the payments violated the state's sovereign immunity. Gilead responded that a ruling against it would put it out of business and place the health of numerous children in jeopardy. DHS rebutted that the children would be cared for and that irreparable harm -- at least in the legal sense of the term -- would not be done to Gilead were the judge to halt its Medicaid payments.
DHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell said that DHS is prepared to help Gilead implement a plan of corrective action. She added that the company might be able to rejoin the Medicaid program if it reforms.
Gilead has not yet appealed DHS's decision to terminate. According to Munsell, the deadline for appeal is not set in stone, but it is quickly approaching. Reached by phone this afternoon, Gilead owner Charles Gibson II said he had no comment on whether the company would file an appeal.