Mississippi Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, TN - A Mississippi woman is charged with misrepresenting her residency in order to obtain healthcare insurance benefits through the TennCare program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Washett Spears-Whiting, 34, of Southaven, Mississippi. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the arrest.
A Shelby County indictment charges Spears-Whiting with three counts of TennCare fraud and theft of property over $10,000, accusing her of fraudulently obtaining medical assistance benefits through TennCare, even though she was not entitled to receive them.
“The Office of Inspector General will prosecute anyone we find who misrepresents their income, address, or employment in order to gain TennCare benefits,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said.
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Theft of property over $10,000 is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 2,000 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."