FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Cocke County woman is charged in Sevier 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 S. Keller, also known as Terra Thomas, 33, of Newport. A Sevier County indictment accuses Keller of five counts of doctor shopping for controlled substances, using TennCare as payment. She is also charged with five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
Keller was arrested earlier this month on the same charges in separate indictments out of Knox and Cocke Counties. She was charged in both previous instances with two counts of doctor shopping and containing a controlled substance by fraud.
“People who break the law to get these addictive medications haven’t considered the repercussions when, not if, they are caught,” Acting Inspector General Robert White said. “With the help of providers, we’re sending a message that abusing TennCare won’t be tolerated by law enforcement, healthcare professionals or citizens.”
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 James Dunn is prosecuting the Sevier 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, 2,150 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."