|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, May 24, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Giles County woman is charged in nearby Marshall County for “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs, using TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a joint investigation with Giles and Marshall County Sheriffs’ officers, today announced the arrest of Melody Ann Bridges, 38, of Pulaski. She is charged with one count of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping, or seeing multiple physicians in a short period of time to obtain prescription drugs; in this case, the painkiller Hydrocodone.
“The unauthorized use and abuse of prescription drugs is a serious public health problem nation-wide, including Tennessee,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “The Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring the TennCare program is used to assist people – we will not tolerate anyone committing fraud against this important program.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. 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 $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 1,600 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."