Ophelia Ford denies any TennCare fraud; Click here to listen to the full interview

In a telephone interview Friday, Tennessee State Senator Ophelia Ford said she was shocked to see on the news Thursday that her payroll records had been subpoenaed by the TennCare Inspector General.

Ford denied any wrongdoing, saying she was on TennCare, but did not commit fraud.

"Do you think I wanted to go on TennCare?  No," she said. "But, hey, you have to have continuation of coverage, and I had to do that."

Ford said a series of illnesses and surgeries left her unable to obtain insurance.  She found out in 1995 when she left her job as a licensed insurance agent for Blue Cross-Blue Shield.  Ford said she had no other choice when the company she used to work for turned down her application.

"They denied it, and gave me the TennCare number and application, and told me all I had to do was to present that letter that they sent me of denial," she said.

Ford said she was only on TennCare for three to four years, not a decade as reported by some media sources.

According to Ford, Blue Cross Blue Shield finally accepted her application around the year 2000, when she worked at the Ford Funeral Home.

"As soon as the funeral home got insurance, I said, 'Look, I need to apply.'  I don't know if they'll accept me or not," she said.

They did.

Today, like all state senators, Ford is insured by the State of Tennessee.

Friday, a TennCare spokesperson would not confirm or deny an investigation into any wrongdoing.

Also during Friday's interview, Ford confirmed to Action News 5 that she recently spent a week and a half in the hospital.

Last week however, Ford denied that an ambulance rushed her to Methodist Hospital after a frantic 911 call.
During the call, Ford told the 911 operator she could not stop shaking.
Ford said doctors conducted a series of tests during her hospital stay designed to figure out what was wrong with her.  She said they told her that, in addition to severe anemia, she has a muscle disorder that makes her weak.

Also in Friday's interview, Ford answered rumors of alcohol abuse.

Kontji Anthony: "Ophelia, what do you say to people who try to say that alcohol was a problem?"

Ophelia Ford: "They just don't know any better, Kontji.  And it may have some of the same symptoms because I'm so weak."

You can listen to the full, unedited interview with Ophelia Ford, conducted Friday by Action News 5's Kontji Anthony, via the video player to the right of this article.