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Jan.-Feb. 2012, Vol. XXVII, No. 1
 
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Older Illinois volunteers get $325,000 in Medicare fraud fight

Have you taken a call from someone "at Medicare" asking for your Medicare number so you can get a new card? Have you seen something on your Medicare Summary Notice you didn't actually receive? Then you could be a candidate for federal government "Senior Medicare Patrols" (SMPs) that help snag Medicare cheats and save tax dollars.

Continuing a national program using older volunteers to help catch people defrauding Medicare, federal dollars were allocated again in fall 2011 for these volunteer Medicare crime-fighters. In Illinois, $325,000 will be overseen statewide for SMP work by AgeOptions, serving suburban Cook County.

AgeOptions says SMPs strive to protect Medicare customers from rampant Medicare (and Medicaid) fraud, waste, and abuse; detect it, and report it to the proper authorities. The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) funds SMPs countrywide. In turn, they partner with the U.S. departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to stop Medicare fraud. Learn more.

The AoA reports it has awarded just over $28 million to SMPs around the country over the last three years. Since the SMP program was kicked off in 1997, the AoA says $106 million has been saved through attention to documented complaints.

The Illinois SPM effort

At AgeOptions.org , Medicare recipients are reminded healthcare fraud is not necessarily their fault. "Fraud occurs in every city, in every state, every day. Scam artists will do anything to gain our trust, and even the most sensible consumers can get scammed.

"But you can do something about it. You can report it to the Illinois Senior Medicare Patrol program." The Illinois SMP sends email "fraud alerts" every Friday. They contain fraud news articles, information on Illinois or other scams around the country, and fraud-related resources.

Besides treating all your personal Medicare and Medicaid data as if it were money or jewelry, Illinois SMP advises that you watch for services or supplies you never received, that you know your doctor didn't order, or those unrelated to your condition. Finally, look for things for which you're billed twice.

If you want to be added to the Illinois SMP "fraud alert" email list, contact Erin Weir at 1-800-699-9043 or erinweir@ageoptions.org.


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