Knox Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Knox County woman is charged with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills. Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple doctors in a 30-day period in order to obtain prescriptions for drugs, usually narcotics and other controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Cristina A. Ward, 35, of Knoxville. She is charged with four counts of doctor shopping for the painkiller Hydrocodone, using TennCare as payment.
“Controlled substances such as opioids have a dangerous potential for abuse, addiction, physical harm and even death when used improperly by people not under a physician’s care,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “Many times these medications are prescribed under the direction and supervision of a healthcare provider for short-term pain relief, but we’re committed to pursuing those cases involving fraud and abuse especially when these classifications of dangerous drugs are involved.”
District Attorney General Charme P. Allen is prosecuting. 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, 2,943 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 800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”