|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Roane County woman is charged for a second time with “doctor shopping,” or going to multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain the same or similar controlled substances and using TennCare as payment.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of 53-year old Kathy Ellison. A Knox County grand jury charged her with two counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances by “doctor shopping” and two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
Ellison was arrested just over a month ago, on September 27, when a Morgan County grand jury charged her with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.” Those charges accuse her of seeing multiple physicians within a 30-day period to obtain prescriptions for the painkillers Hydrocodone and Lortab. The clinical office visits were paid for by TennCare.
“Prescription drug abuse is a concern of communities large and small across Tennessee,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “With the help of medical providers, we are sending a message that abusing TennCare will have serious repercussions.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney Randall Nichols will be 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, 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."