FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Putnam County woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, which is the crime of using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from Cookeville Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s officers, today announced the arrest of Cindee S. Newton, 45, of Cookeville. She is charged with doctor shopping for the anti-anxiety medication Alprazolam, a controlled substance. The clinical visit was paid for by TennCare. Newton is also charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
“Technology is a step ahead of people who go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescription drugs, especially when public dollars are used in this crime,” Acting Inspector General Robert White said. “We’re preserving TennCare benefits for people who need them, especially expensive prescription drug benefits.”
TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York 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, 2,152 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."