|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A McMinn County man is charged with TennCare fraud for the crime of “doctor shopping” for controlled substances.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from McMinn County Sheriff’s and Athens police officers today announced the arrest of Johnny L. Fritts, 26, of Athens. He’s been charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping.” According to the indictment, Fritts saw several doctors over a 30-day period and received prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone with the physician office visits being paid for by TennCare.
“We are grateful for the assistance we receive from local police as well as pharmacies and providers who all want to bring an end to the abuse of TennCare, especially in the area of prescription drugs,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We will keep pursuing people who commit these crimes as many times as it takes until they understand we will not tolerate this type of abuse of the TennCare program.”
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 Steven Bebb 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."