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Decatur Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 10:28am
Paula Hutcherson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Decatur County woman has been charged in nearby Henderson County with TennCare fraud for filling fraudulent prescriptions and using another person’s TennCare benefits as payment.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Paula Hutcherson, 50, of Parsons. She is charged with two counts of TennCare fraud and five counts of obtaining and/or attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.

Hutcherson, who works in the medical field, called in a prescription for Ambien, a Schedule IV controlled substance, to a pharmacy by using the name of a provider she did not have permission to use and knowingly used the name of a TennCare enrollee in order to use their TennCare benefits to pay for the prescriptions.

“OIG continues to work tirelessly to prevent individuals from illegally obtaining controlled substances,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said. “We want to ensure that Tennessee taxpayers money is being used properly and not being abused by individuals seeking improper benefits. We appreciate the healthcare providers, law enforcement, and citizens who provide information about this type of TennCare fraud.”

District Attorney General Jody Pickens 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, 3,118 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/oig/ and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”