FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Cocke County woman is charged in nearby Knox County with TennCare fraud involving "doctor shopping," or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Terra Sheree Keller, also known as Teresa Lynn Thomas, 33, of Newport. A Knox County Grand Jury charged her with two counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances by "doctor shopping," using TennCare as payment.
Earlier this month, Keller was arrested in Cocke County and charged with two counts of doctor shopping and two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
"We have been overwhelmingly enthused with the response we´ve received from medical providers across the state in support of cracking down on people who go from doctor to doctor within several days, mounting an effort to obtain controlled substances through TennCare benefits," Acting Inspector General Robert White said. "They are also tired of TennCare abuse - and want these drugs out of the hands of people who are getting them fraudulently."
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Obtaining controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony which has a sentence of up to four years per charge. District Attorney General Randall Nichols is prosecuting the Knox County case.
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."