Middle Tennessee Residents Charged with TennCare Fraud

Monday, March 27, 2017 | 10:11am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Residents of Wilson and Rutherford Counties are charged with TennCare fraud in separate cases, both involving falsely reporting their income in order to qualify for healthcare insurance benefits though the state program.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Rutherford and Wilson County Sheriff’s Offices, today announced the arrest of Tadzia Williams, 41, of Murfreesboro and Laura Leigh McElhiney, 42, of Lebanon.

Williams is charged in Rutherford County with one count each of TennCare fraud, theft of services over $10,000 and perjury. An indictment accuses her of failing to report her marriage and change of income for herself and her husband in order to be eligible to receive TennCare benefits.  Williams received $16,659.88 in medical assistance benefits that she was not entitled to. District Attorney General Jennings H. Jones will be prosecuting this case.

McElhiney is charged in Wilson County with one count each of TennCare fraud and theft of services over $10,000. An indictment accuses her of reporting fraudulent information to the state in order to be eligible for TennCare benefits. She received medical assistance benefits for herself and her minor children in the amount of $42,194.97. District Attorney General Tom P. Thompson, Jr., will be prosecuting this case.

"It´s troubling that anyone with other resources attempts to be enrolled in a program meant for people who truly need healthcare benefits through TennCare," Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. "We are pursuing and prosecuting these cases across the state where people intentionally misrepresent information so that the state pays for their healthcare insurance."

TennCare fraud is now a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,806 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 visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”