FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Cocke County woman is charged a second time with TennCare doctor shopping, or going to multiple doctors to obtain the same or similar controlled substances and using the state’s Medicaid program as payment.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Sevier County Sheriff’s department, today announced the arrest of 20-year old Diamond Ahrens, of Newport. She was indicted in Sevier County on one count of doctor shopping for prescriptions to obtain the painkillers Hydrocodone and Tramadol. TennCare paid for the doctor visits.
Ahrens was arrested last September after an indictment in Greene County, when she was charged with two counts of doctor shopping with the painkiller Tramadol involved and using TennCare to pay for the doctor visits or the prescriptions at the pharmacy.
“Prescription drug abuse is a concern of communities large and small across the nation,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “With the help of medical providers and local law enforcement, though, Tennessee is sending a message that abusing TennCare will have serious repercussions.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General James Dunn will be prosecuting the Davidson County 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, 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."