FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Davidson County woman is now facing her fourth round of TennCare fraud charges.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Sarah Kristina Thomason, 26, of Nashville. Thomason was indicted in Rutherford County, and charged with fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.” Charges say she saw multiple doctors in a short period of time, using TennCare benefits to obtain prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone.
Thomason was arrested in December of last year, when she was charged in Davidson County with two counts of TennCare “doctor shopping,” involving a similar painkiller, Lortab. She had been arrested over two years before – in June of 2010 – on a Davidson County indictment for three counts of TennCare fraud, three counts of identity theft and three counts of prescription drug fraud. Again, the prescription painkiller Hydrocodone was involved. Her first arrest was just a month earlier, in May of 2010, when she was charged in Rutherford County with 22 counts of TennCare fraud, 22 counts of theft of identity and 17 counts of prescription fraud. That time, Thomason was accused of using the identification of a legitimate TennCare member to obtain medical services, and prescriptions for Hydrocodone.
“A person can be charged with TennCare fraud as many times as it takes to get the message through that we won’t tolerate this in Tennessee,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “In most areas these days, the illegal possession and use of prescription drugs is a bigger problem than use of illegal drugs, and we intend to stop this activity in TennCare.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General William C. Whitesell, Jr. is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,700 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 log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."