|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Lincoln County woman is charged for the second time with “doctor shopping,” with TennCare, which is the crime of going to multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain the same or similar controlled substances, and using TennCare as payment.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal’s service, today announced the arrest of Amber L. Watkins, 32, of Dellrose. She’s named in a Williamson County indictment accusing her of three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping” for the painkiller Hydrocodone and Ambien, a sleep-inducing medication. Watkins used TennCare benefits to pay for the prescriptions.
Watkins was arrested in November on an indictment from Lincoln County, where she was accused of doctor shopping and three counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The drugs involved were the Percocet, a strong pain medication, alon with the anti-anxiety medication Alprazolam and an anti-insomnia medication, Zolpidem.
“Breaking the law to obtain prescription drugs is a serious crime, especially when the state’s public healthcare insurance program is involved,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We’re intent on fully pursuing these cases.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Kim Helper is prosecuting this case in Williamson County.
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."