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Henderson Co. Woman Charged a 2nd Time for TennCare Doctor Shopping

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | 10:21am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Henderson County woman is charged in nearby Decatur County with doctor shopping for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits as payment for the pills.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, today announced the arrest of Julie R. Smith, 38, of Lexington. She is charged with using TennCare to doctor shop for the painkiller hydrocodone. Doctor shopping involves visiting multiple healthcare providers in a short time period to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs. Smith is charged with one count of TennCare fraud by doctor shopping.

Smith was previously arrested in November 2018 in Madison County, when she was charged with six counts of doctor shopping for prescription drugs. She has since pleaded guilty to all six counts.

“Illegally obtaining controlled substances is a crime that Tennesseans will not tolerate,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said. “Fortunately, Tennessee laws deter TennCare benefits from being used to fund the opioid epidemic.”

District Attorney General Matt Stowe is prosecuting. TennCare fraud is 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, 3,085 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.”