|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A man and woman from Washington County are each charged with TennCare fraud for attempting to use TennCare to pay for forged prescriptions.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Maria A. Grindstaff Tressler, 30, and James D. Blankenship, 51, both of Johnson City. The arrests were assisted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Tressler is accused of pbtaining TennCare medical assistance benefits that she was not entitled to by presenting a forged prescription and attempting to have TennCare pay for it.
In a separate case, Blankenship is accused of fraudulently obtaining medical assistance benefits that he was not entitled to by presenting a forged prescription for the painkiller Percocet, which was paid for by his TennCare.
"Our mission is to preserve the integrity of the TennCare program by preventing fraud and abuse of the program, especially in the area of prescription drugs," Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Local officials have been incredibly helpful because they also want to stop prescription drug abuse in their communities.”
If convicted Tressler and Blankenship could each face up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Anthony Clark will prosecute each case.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.6 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $159 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."