FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Madison County man is charged with TennCare fraud in connection with obtaining benefits through the healthcare insurance program, even though he wasn’t eligible.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Joe Ray Phelps, 54, of Jackson.
Phelps was indicted by a Madison County Grand Jury and charged with fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical assistance benefits to which he was not entitled.
“When a person intentionally misrepresents their situation – whether it’s income, dependents, access to insurance or other issues – that’s fraud against the state and taxpayers,” Acting Inspector General Robert White said. “We’re committed to ensuring that TennCare benefits are available to people truly eligible for the program, and part of that is removing people who are not eligible and prosecuting to the full extent.”
The TennCare fraud charge against Phelps could result in a two year sentence if convicted. District Attorney General Jerry Woodall 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, 2,142 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."