|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2008
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Lauderdale County man has been indicted for TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare benefits to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain controlled substances such as prescription painkillers.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Richie L. Hunt, 38, of Ripley. Hunt is charged with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping.”
According to the indictment, Hunt failed to disclose to his doctor while receiving prescriptions for Hydrocodone that he had previously seen other physicians within a 30-day period and had received similar prescriptions for the painkiller. The physician office visits were all paid for by TennCare.>
"The response to our efforts to crack down on people who are ‘doctor shopping’ in TennCare has been overwhelming from providers and law enforcement units across Tennessee,” General Deborah Faulkner said. “With this tool, we have an even stronger program to go after the prescription drug problem.”
TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. Acting District Attorney General J. Michael Dunavant is prosecuting.
The OIG, a law enforcement agency separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has worked cases leading to the arrest of over 800 individuals for TennCare fraud, with nearly $1 million paid in restitution to TennCare, and total estimated cost avoidance in TennCare of over $122 million, according to latest figures.
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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."