|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE - A Hamblen County woman is charged in Hawkins County with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for a controlled substance. TennCare is the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), along with Hamblen County Sheriff’s officers, today announced the arrest of Melissa Carpenter, 41, of Morristown. Carpenter has been charged with one count of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.”
An indictment says Carpenter obtained a controlled substance from multiple physicians within a 30-day period, receiving prescriptions for the strong painkiller Oxycodone. The physician office visits and prescriptions were paid for by TennCare.
“Certain prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances because they have a dangerous potential for abuse and addiction,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “The OIG is committed to pursuing those individuals who are involved in TennCare fraud and abuse especially when dangerous drugs are involved.”
The TennCare fraud charge against Carpenter could result in a two year sentence if convicted. District Attorney General C. Berkley Bell 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, 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."