Rhea Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 | 12:18pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Rhea County woman is charged in nearby Hamilton County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare as payment for the pills. Doctor shopping is the crime of using TennCare to visit multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain prescription drugs.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Charity Marie Ellis also known as Charity Flerl, 29, of Spring City.  She is charged with doctor shopping for the painkillers Hydrocodone, Torodol and Tramadol, using TennCare as payment. She has been charged with five counts of TennCare fraud by doctor shopping.

“Tennessee is fortunate to have the laws and the authority to pursue people who are doctor shopping for drugs, regardless of whether they’re using the drugs personally or selling these dangerous drugs to others,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said.

District Attorney General Neal Pinkston is prosecuting. As of July 1, 2016, TennCare fraud was changed to a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

A Mississippi woman is charged with fraudulently obtaining TennCare healthcare insurance benefits by falsely claiming minor children as dependents in order to qualify for the state program.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,797 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”