FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Mississippi woman is charged with making false statements in order to obtain TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the arrest of Patricia Bell, 31, of Horn Lake, Mississippi. The DeSoto County Mississippi Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrest. An indictment in Shelby County accuses Bell of TennCare fraud and theft of property for illegally obtaining TennCare medical benefits, a Class E felony.
“Tennessee will prosecute anyone who is misrepresenting their income, address or employment in order to gain TennCare benefits,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “It is especially egregious when someone from outside the state of Tennessee gains access to TennCare benefits – anyone who lies about their residency will be investigated and prosecuted.”
If convicted, Bell could receive up to four years in prison for TennCare fraud, and up to six years for theft of property. District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich will prosecute.
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 1,700 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."