|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Knox County woman is accused of TennCare fraud for using TennCare to pay for altered prescriptions.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office today announced the arrest of 31-year old Barbara Perkey of Knoxville. She was indicted on five counts of TennCare fraud and five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
Perkey is accused of altering prescriptions for suboxone, a medication used to treat people addicted to heroin and morphine. It’s similar to methadone but the cost is considerably higher.
“We are getting the word out that abuse of TennCare to access narcotics, painkillers or any prescription drugs is not tolerated,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “Doctors, pharmacies and local law enforcement agencies are helping us in aggressively pursuing drug fraud in the TennCare program.”
District Attorney General Randall Nichols will prosecute the case. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a class D felony that carries a maximum of four years in prison for each charge. Illegally obtaining TennCare medical benefits is a class E felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison for each charge.
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."