|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER615.532.8560 (OFFICE)615.202.0701 (CELL)
KNOX COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH 10 COUNTS OF TENNCARE "DOCTOR SHOPPING"
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Knox County man has been indicted for TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office today announced the arrest of Billy R. Harbin, 33, of Knoxville. Harbin is charged with eleven counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances, with “doctor shopping, added to 10 of the counts.
Charges accuse Harbin of failing to disclose to his doctor that he had seen other physicians within a 30-day period and received prescriptions for controlled substances, with the physician office visits being paid for by TennCare.
"We are enthused with the response we’ve received from physicians across the state in support of cracking down on people who try to ‘doctor shop,’” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Before the ‘doctor shopping’ law, physicians’ hands were tied and now they’re calling us, often as soon as the patient leaves the office.”
TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Randall Nichols is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,000 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."