|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Jackson County woman accused of being on TennCare even though she was not eligible for the program must now repay the state after pleading guilty to TennCare fraud.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced sentencing for 51 year-old Patricia A. Stewart of Gainesboro. She pleaded guilty to theft of services, a Class C felony, and received a four-year suspended sentence with four years probation. Stewart also has to repay TennCare $27,500 for medical and pharmacy benefits paid on her behalf while she was on the program.
“We are watching closely to identify those people who intentionally misrepresent information about themselves so they can have access to TennCare insurance,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “TennCare is for people who need it and meet the eligibility requirements, and we have strong laws on the books to go after those who are on the program and not eligible.”
Stewart was indicted three years ago on the felony theft of services charge for intentionally failing to report to the state that the father of her child was living in the household - which made her ineligible for TennCare. Investigators said on several different occasions, Stewart intentionally failed to give the state true and accurate information on her household information. District Attorney General Tom P. Thompson 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, nearly 1,500 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."