Bradley woman charged with TennCare "doctor shopping" - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bradley woman charged with TennCare "doctor shopping"

BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -– A Bradley County woman has been charged with TennCare fraud involving "doctor shopping," a crime involving the use TennCare benefits to go to multiple doctors in a short time period in order to obtain controlled substances.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced Friday the arrest of Michelle Hicks, 24, of Cleveland, Tennessee.  

Hicks is charged with five counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances using TennCare benefits, by going to more than one doctor in a 30-day period to get controlled substance prescriptions.

"The unauthorized use and abuse of prescription drugs is a serious issue, and it's especially egregious when public healthcare insurance benefits are used to obtain these drugs," Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said.  "Tennessee has been out front in giving us the legal tools we need to effectively identify and pursue these cases."

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison.   District Attorney General R. 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.

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