Mississippi Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Mississippi woman is charged with TennCare fraud and theft of property after she received healthcare insurance benefits through the state’s healthcare insurance program, even though she was not eligible.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Sharon Smith, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi. She is charged with three counts of TennCare fraud and theft of property.
The charges against Smith accuse her of knowingly receiving TennCare medical assistance benefits she was not entitled to by means of willfully false statement or other fraudulent means.
“We intend to prosecute anyone, regardless of where they live, if they lie to get TennCare health benefits they are not entitled to receive,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “People who cross the state line to gain a benefit available to Tennesseans are stealing taxpayer dollars.”
The TennCare fraud charge carries up to a two-year sentence per charge, and the theft of property charge could result in a sentence up to four 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, 2,190 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."