|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JUNE 14, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Knox County woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors to obtain controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Tonya Michelle Thomas, 35, of Knoxville. She is charged with four counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping, seeing multiple physicians and receiving prescriptions for the same or similar controlled substance, with the physician office visits being paid for by TennCare.
“The Office of Inspector General, local law enforcement, and medical providers are focused on finding people who abuse TennCare particularly when it involves prescription drugs,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We have a zero tolerance for anyone who commits this crime.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Randall Nichols 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 1,600 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."