|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
BLOUNT COUNTY WOMAN CHARGED WITH TENNCARE "DOCTOR SHOPPING"
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Blount County woman is charged in Sevier County with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to visit multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for a controlled substance.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Sevier County Sheriff’s, today announced the arrest of Misty N. Howard, 27, of Seymour. She is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.” Howard failed to disclose to her doctor that she had seen other physicians within a 30-day period and received a prescription for the strong painkiller Hydrocodone, with the physician office visits and prescriptions being paid for by TennCare.
"The ‘doctor shopping’ law is one of our most valuable tools in cracking down on people who are misusing TennCare to feed their own prescription drug abuse, or resell the drugs to others,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “The OIG is aggressively pursuing those who commit TennCare fraud, especially involving the resale of prescription drugs in our communities.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General James B. Dunn will be prosecuting this case.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,100 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."