Two Tennessee Women Charged with TennCare Fraud in Separate Cases

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Tennessee officials this week charged women with TennCare fraud in two separate cases.

Officials charged a Hickman County woman with lying to the state to obtain TennCare healthcare insurance benefits, according to a press release from the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration.

The Office of Inspector General and the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Heather Knill, 40, of Pleasantville. She is accused of claiming that only she and her child lived in their home on a single income, when in fact the child’s father lived in the home and contributed his income to the household – all of which would have made her ineligible for TennCare. As a result, she received TennCare benefits totaling more than $44,000 and she’s charged with theft of services over $10,000, the press release said.

“Omitting relevant facts to purposefully receive public benefits amounts to criminal activity and not taken lightly,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said in the press release.

“The Legislature determined that any theft of services greater than $500 is a felony … and in this case, a class C felony, carrying up to 15 years in prison.” “

District Attorney General Kim R. Helper is prosecuting.

In the second case, authorities charged a Rhea County woman with TennCare fraud for falsely reporting her income and household composition in order to obtain TennCare benefits.

The OIG, with the assistance of the Rhea County Sheriff’s Office, announced the arrest of Kayla Hickman, 27, of Dayton (pictured above). She is charged with TennCare fraud and theft of services over $10,000 for allegedly failing to report that the father of her two children lived in her home and contributed to the household income. Both factors made her ineligible for TennCare.

“Tennessee citizens are easily angered when people abuse federal and state tax dollars intended to help those in need,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said in a second press release.

“We appreciate the assistance of the local law enforcement in coordinating the arrest in this case.”

TennCare fraud is now a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Theft of services over $10,000 is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. District Attorney General Mike Taylor is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 3,077 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.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

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