|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – An Alabama couple has pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud for misrepresenting their residency in order to obtain healthcare insurance benefits through TennCare.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the sentencing of Christopher T. Smith, 31 and Brittany J. Smith, 23, both of Bridgeport, Alabama. Each of them pleaded guilty to one count of TennCare fraud, and ordered to repay the state over $16,000 for medical benefits received while they were on the program. Additionally, as a condition of probation, they both agreed they will not enroll or re-apply for TennCare benefits.
The Smiths were indicted by a Marion County Grand Jury in March of this year, for falsely claiming to reside in Tennessee and failing to notify the state that their household residence was actually in Alabama. District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor prosecuted this case.
“When people cross state lines to enroll in TennCare, they are taking services away from Tennesseans who need health care insurance,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “When Tennesseans hear about anyone crossing state lines to enroll in TennCare, we need to know about it so we can stop it and make them pay restitution to the State of Tennessee.”
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, nearly 1,500 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."