|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Marshall County woman has been indicted for TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” a crime which involves using TennCare benefits to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Lewisburg Police Department today announced the arrest of Bobbie Lopez, 37, of Belfast.
Lopez is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping.” The controlled substance in this case is the addictive painkiller oxycodone. She is accused of failing to disclose to her doctor she had seen other physicians in a 30-day period to obtain additional prescriptions for the same or similar drug. The physician office visits were paid in part by TennCare.
"We have received an outstanding response from physicians and other providers across the state in our efforts to crack down on people who ‘doctor shop’ using the TennCare program,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We’re closing the loopholes that people use to gain access to prescription drugs by fraudulent means in TennCare.”
TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison on each charge. District Attorney General Charles Crawford is prosecuting.
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 $165 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 920 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."