|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – After being on the run for nine months, a Shelby County man has been arrested for TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Memphis Police Department, today announced the arrest of Thomas E. Covington, 35, of Memphis. He was indicted by a grand jury in April of last year, charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.” The charges say he saw multiple physicians within a 30-day period and received a prescription for the same or similar controlled substance, with the physician office visits or the prescriptions being paid for by TennCare.
"People charged with TennCare fraud are on the radar of police across the state, as any other criminal would be,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “It might take a few months, but we will locate and prosecute those who are charged with committing fraud against TennCare.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich will be prosecuting the case.
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, nearly 1,500 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."