WOMAN CHARGED WITH TENNCARE FRAUD FOR SECOND TIME
CHARGED IN DICKSON, WILLIAMSON COUNTIES
NASHVILLE, TN – A woman already charged with TennCare fraud in Dickson County now faces similar charges in Williamson County.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of 68-year old Sarah Ella Brunger of Fairview, who was taken into custody with assistance from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department. Governor Phil Bredesen created the OIG, one of the first units of its kind in the nation, in 2004. Since it became operational in February 2005, 293 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.
An indictment accuses Brunger of intentionally failing to report assets that would have made her ineligible for Medicaid benefits under TennCare. She is charged with one count of theft of services.
In April 2006, Brunger was charged in Dickson County with theft of services and fraudulently obtaining TennCare. Those charges, also brought by the OIG, accuse her of illegally transferring property and falsifying information to place her brother in a nursing home so that TennCare Medicaid would pay for his care. At the time, she had power of attorney for her brother. Without her actions, his assets would have been sufficient to make him ineligible for Medicaid to cover his nursing home care. The value of the medical benefits unlawfully obtained in that incident was greater than $60,000.
“TennCare Medicaid provides assistance to low-income individuals, or people whose medical bills far outweigh their means,” said Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner. “People who apply for nursing home benefits must disclose assets, or certain transfers of any assets for three years prior to the application date, and that requirement is in place keep people from attempting to pauperize themselves in order to qualify for benefits.”
If convicted, Brunger could serve up to twelve years in prison on the Dickson County charges, which are Class B and E felonies. District Attorney Dan Alsobrooks of Dickson County will prosecute. The Williamson County case is being handled by District Attorney Ronald L. Davis. If convicted for this charge she could serve an additional two years in prison.
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 Fraud Now.”