|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, May 24, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Mississippi woman has pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud for misrepresenting her residency in order to obtain TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
Cynthia E. Hernandez, 35, of Steen, Mississippi, was arrested in December of last year by the Office of Inspector General (OIG). She pleaded guilty in Shelby County to one count of TennCare fraud, after an indictment that also accused her of theft of services. Special Agents with the OIG say she claimed she lived in Tennessee when her household residence was actually in Mississippi.
“When people cross the state line to enroll in TennCare, they are stealing from everyone who pays taxes,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “The Office of Inspector General is going after anyone who is lying, cheating, and stealing from the TennCare program—TennCare fraud is a crime.”
Hernandez was sentenced to two years prison which was suspended to supervised probation. She was also ordered to repay the State of Tennessee restitution in the amount of $16,033. District Attorney General Amy P. Weirich prosecuted this case.
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."