Cocke Co. Woman Charged 2nd Time with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Cocke County woman is charged in nearby Hamblen County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office today announced the arrest of Deborah G. Walker, 59, of Newport. A Hamblen County Grand Jury charged Walker with fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by doctor shopping, which involves using TennCare to visit multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain prescriptions for drugs. In this case, it was the painkiller Hydrocodone.
She was first arrested in April, after an indictment in Cocke County charging her with six counts of TennCare fraud for using the program to doctor shop for Hydrocodone.
“Obtaining prescription drugs illegally utilizing TennCare benefits will not be tolerated,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said. “We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the local law enforcement agencies and healthcare providers across the state working together to fight the opioid epidemic in Tennessee.”
District Attorney General Dan E. Armstrong is prosecuting. TennCare fraud is a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison per charge.
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, 2,980 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.”