|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Davidson County woman now faces TennCare fraud charges for the third time in over two years.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Sarah Kristina Thomason, 26, of Nashville. Thomason’s arrest was assisted by Metro Nashville Police. She is charged with two counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by “doctor shopping,” for the painkiller Lortab, using TennCare to pay for the doctor’s office visits or the prescriptions.
“Doctor shopping” involves going to multiple physicians in a short period of time with the intent of obtaining controlled substances.
“People sometimes try anything to obtain prescription painkillers, but we’re intent on tracking this activity in TennCare and prosecuting to the fullest extent,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “The best result would be for the perpetrators to finally get help, and sometimes it takes multiple arrests for them to be ready for that.”
In June of 2010, Thomason was indicted by a Davidson County Grand Jury on three counts of TennCare fraud, three counts of theft of identity and three counts of prescription fraud. That time, she was accused of using the personal identifying information of a TennCare enrollee to obtain medical services and gain possession of the painkiller Hydrocodone.
At the time, she had just been arrested the month before, in May 2010, in Rutherford County, when she was charged with 22 counts of TennCare fraud, 22 counts of theft of identity and 17 counts of prescription fraud. Again, she was charged with using personal identification information belonging to a legitimate member of TennCare in order to obtain medical services and prescription painkillers.
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Victor S. Johnson, III 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, over 1,700 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."