Followup Investigation Needed At County Schools After Cream Scheme - And Response

Friday, October 4, 2019

Hamilton County Commissioners who voted against the latest tax increase effort are looking good right now after this latest expose of taxpayer money misuse - a "cream scheme" that took the Hamilton County Schools for over $954,000.

Krista Torrance, county school employee benefits manager, said the county schools are self-insured. She said the cost of the scam "will ultimately go back to the taxpayers." The creams were said to cure skin disorders and heal scars, stretch marks and wounds.

A government study found they had little to no helpful effect. 

Now the report states that about $325,000 has been recovered through efforts of Blue Cross Blue Shield.
 
Accidentally it has been discovered that almost a million dollars can be trimmed from the Hamilton County school budget by simply eliminating these types of frivolous products from our self insured system. 
 
Now I really don't have a lot of confidence in the Hamilton County Schools Benefits office to offer any substantial changes to oversight so now the ball should land square in the laps of our County Commissioners to investigate. Let's go, fab five. You had the courage to vote no on the tax increase. Follow up with an investigation. Taxpayers deserve to know.

Ron Ray

* * * 

I agree with you, sir.  However, scams very similar to the "cream" scam are by no means limited to the school system.

A few years ago I was being seen for a soft tissue injury to my shoulder. I am not able to take steroids due to another medication I take. The provider I saw offered me a sample of a paste that a "representative" had left at the office. The provider had no experience with the product and was not promoting it. The paste was supposed to release a small amount of steroid very slowly through the skin. I never used the samples. I was sent to physical therapy and my shoulder pain and limited range of motion went away. 

I receive a monthly report from my medical provider that summarizes all medications, tests, and treatments. The report defines dollars spent. I was immediately alarmed at the total for the period. When I checked the line by line detail of the report I found that $1,000 had been charged to my insurance from the company listed on the package of paste. I had not been given a prescription for the paste, and certainly had not purchased the paste and then filed for reimbursement. I called my insurance carrier and explained in detail. The carrier removed the figure from my records. I never heard anything else from my insurance carrier. 

Sometime later I saw an article here on Chattanoogan.com regarding a lawsuit and investigation of the company that had provided the samples of "paste". There was a law firm listed in the article. I contacted the firm and related my experience. The person I spoke to at the firm was curt and had no interest in talking with me. I forgot about it until the "cream" story popped up. 

I hope that the information we are seeing is enough for everyone to be more on guard. My experience reminded me of decades ago when someone stole credit card information and would make random, small charges to the account, hoping that the card owner would simply pay their bills and not check the line item charges listed each month on their billing statement. We couldn't afford to do that back then, and certainly cannot afford it now. Stay vigilant. 

Ted Ladd


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