|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Blount County woman is charged in Hamilton County with TennCare fraud for using the public healthcare insurance program to obtain prescription drugs, which she later sold.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the 5th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Melanie Ann Burns, 48, of Maryville.
Burns was indicted on one count of TennCare fraud for obtaining a prescription for the pain reliever Opana, a brand drug for Oxymorphone Hydrochloride, which is a Schedule II controlled drug prescribed for patients with severe pain who require continuous, around-the-clock pain relief treatment.
“This particular drug is a controlled substance with an abuse liability similar to morphine, according to the manufacturer, and it’s clearly a drug we do not want in the hands of our children and others in our communities,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We hope that everyone, including local law enforcement and providers, will continue to ask for our assistance or let us know when they suspect TennCare fraud.”
The TennCare fraud charges against Burns could result in a two year sentence, if convicted. District Attorney General William H. Cox, III 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."