A 66-year-old woman caught doctor shopping for drugs will avoid jail time but will lose her TennCare benefits.
The woman, Christine Perry of Spencer, was placed on probation by Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley after she entered a guilty plea to two counts of fraudulently obtaining TennCare benefits. She will be required to make restitution and must forfeit her TennCare benefits while she is on probation. The remainder of her 11 counts were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
Prosecutors say Perry was doctor shopping, trying to obtain the drug hydrocodone.
Doctor shopping is the practice of visiting numerous doctors and complaining of symptoms hoping to be prescribed narcotics. In the case of Perry, investigators with the State Inspector General’s office say they located 11 instances in which she visited doctors trying to get prescriptions for the drug.
The charges, however, did not come from the shopping itself but instead for her charging TennCare for the doctor visits. Prosecutors point out that each time she went to an office seeking hydrocodone, TennCare was having to pay the bill for the appointment.
“Our mission is to find people abusing TennCare to get prescription drugs, and making it clear to everyone there will be repercussions,” said Inspector General Deborah Faulkner.
More than 1,700 people have been charged with TennCare fraud since the Office of Inspector General began investigating such cases in 2005. There has been $3.5 million in restitution paid back to the state by offenders since that time.