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Sullivan County Couple Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 03:43am

NASHVILLE, TN – A husband and wife from Sullivan County are each charged with TennCare fraud for using the state’s healthcare insurance program to pay for fraudulent painkiller prescriptions. 

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of Kingsport Police, today announced the arrest of Michael Johnson, 28, and his wife, Rebecca Johnson, 24, both of Kingsport.

The Johnsons are each charged with one count of TennCare fraud, two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain controlled substance by fraud.  They’re both accused of presenting an altered diagnostic imaging report and patient profile in order to obtain prescriptions for the painkiller Oxycodone and Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication.  They each used TennCare benefits to pay for the fraudulent prescriptions.

 “The Office of Inspector General is working with local law enforcement and medical providers to stop TennCare fraud especially as it relates to prescription drugs,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We are committed to eliminating the incidence of people fraudulently obtaining drugs and letting TennCare pick up the tab.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison per charge.  District Attorney General Barry Staubus 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 1,900 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."

TennCare Fraud | Press Releases