NASHVILLE, TN – A Maury County woman is charged with TennCare fraud in connection with selling prescription drugs that were paid for with TennCare benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), assisted by the Maury County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Stephanie L. Cates, 38, of Columbia. She is accused in an indictment of using TennCare to pay for a prescription for the strong painkiller Morphine, while intending to sell a portion of it.
“Local law enforcement officers have battled the drug fraud problem for a long time, and were glad to start working with us to bring people to justice when they use TennCare to pay for the drugs,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “With the help of local police and providers, we’re making a huge impact on this issue.”
The TennCare fraud charge against Cates could result in a two year sentence, if convicted. District Attorney General Mike Bottoms 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, over 1,700 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.”