Hamilton County Woman Charged With TennCare Fraud, ID Theft

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Hamilton County woman is charged with TennCare fraud and identity theft for obtaining medical treatment and using a TennCare member’s benefits to pay for them.

The Office of Inspector General announced the arrest of Deborah Faye Ellis, also known as Deborah Hanes, Deborah F. Lee, and Deborah Faye Lee, 58, of Chattanooga.  Ms. Ellis was being held at the Lee Arrendale State Prison in Georgia, and has been transported to Hamilton County, where she was served with the indictment.

A Hamilton County Grand Jury charged Ms. Ellis with three counts of TennCare fraud and three counts of identity theft.  She is accused of assuming the identity of a TennCare recipient in order to illegally obtain medical treatment on three separate occasions.

“Our mission is to protect the state’s Medicaid program from people trying to obtain benefits they’re not eligible to receive,” Acting Inspector General Robert White said. “We are committed to preserving TennCare for people who qualify for these important healthcare insurance benefits.”

Identity theft is a Class D felony that carries a maximum of four years in prison per charge.  Fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical benefits is a Class E felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General William H. Cox, III, will prosecute.

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, 2,151 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."

Senator Kelsey Files Amendment To Keep Local Funding In Hall Tax Repeal

Local governments would not lose revenue after repeal of the Hall tax under legislation sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). Senator Kelsey, who continued to assert that the time is right for repeal of the tax, filed a “hold harmless” amendment on Tuesday which calls for providing cities and counties payment from the state based on an average of the last five years ... (click for more)

VW Supplier Seeks New Tax Break

A major Volkswagen supplier in Chattanooga is seeking new tax breaks. Gestamp already has a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) at the VW supplier park at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. It recently acquired 29 acres at the former Brachs candy plant on Jersey Pike. Gestamp is asking that the PILOT be extended to the new property. The request was set to be heard by ... (click for more)

VW PILOT Crash Landing

The Volkswagen emission scandal proves the point citizen activist, Ms. Helen Burns Sharp, has repeatedly brought to the attention of local government officials. She urged them to "beef up" the PILOT contracts before approving PILOT tax abatements. Any logical person would agree, because it is the only way to recoup a tax loss when unthinkable situations arise. Volkswagen's willful ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

Jeffrey Cross is a community activist in the very finest way. He has no idea that I and many others have followed what he has done, and tirelessly I might add, to enhance the St. Elmo neighborhood at the foot of Lookout Mountain. I wish this world had a million Jeffrey Crosses. So when he wrote in protest of my Monday story, “We Want Our City Back,” I was more than eager to read ... (click for more)

Lady 'Canes Beat Bradley, Set Up Showdown With Ooltewah

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – East Hamilton and Bradley Central had played four times before their District 5-3A volleyball tournament opener on Monday. The two teams split the series. Monday’s match was clearly more important than the previous four, since the winner advanced in the district tourney and the loser went home. The No. 4 seed Lady Hurricanes (21-15) rallied impressively ... (click for more)

CSAS Advances In 5-A Volleyball With Win Over Copper Basin

Samantha Green didn't have any idea what her team's overall record was, but all that matters is that her CSAS Lady Patriots won their opening-round match of the District 5-A tournament on Monday at Silverdale and will face top-seeded Grace on Tuesday in the semifinals. The Lady Patriots beat the Copper Basin Lady Cougars on Monday, needing less than an hour to advance as CSAS ... (click for more)