A Hamilton County woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving doctor shopping, a crime that involves going to multiple doctors to obtain controlled substances, using TennCare as payment.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Thursday announced the arrest of Tammy Colbert, 54, of Chattanooga. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrest.
Ms. Colbert is charged with eight counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping, with the provider visits, prescriptions or both being paid for with TennCare. In addition, Ms. Colbert was charged with seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
“Prescription drug fraud has been a significant burden on the health care system,” Acting Inspector General Lawrence S. Saylor, Jr., said. “We’re committed to eliminating this crime in the TennCare program, and local police and providers across the state are working with us in the effort.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a class D felony that carries a penalty of up to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Neal Pinkston 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 TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,174 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 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."