|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Loudon County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for using TennCare to pay for a fraudulent prescription for a painkiller.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Loudon County Sheriff, today announced the arrest of Debra Charleda Buchanan, 55, of Lenoir City.
Buchanan is charged with one count of TennCare fraud and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Charges say she obtained a prescription from a local pharmacy for the painkiller Hydrocodone by fraudulent means, using TennCare to pay for the prescription.
“We are working with local police and providers to help us get this kind of activity out of the TennCare program,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We’re committed to eliminating the incidence of people fraudulently obtaining drugs and letting TennCare pick up the tab.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison. District Attorney General Russell Johnson is prosecuting.
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 1,400 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."