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Help Protect Seniors in Your Community

Medicare fraud and abuse is a growing problem that affects beneficiaries and taxpayers across the country.  Since 1997, the Administration on Aging has funded an important program called the Senior Medicare Patrol that is designed to combat the issue of Medicare fraud and abuse by providing outreach and education to seniors.  The Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas’s (KS SMP) mission is to empower seniors to, “Protect, Detect, and Report” Medicare fraud, errors and abuse.   To advance this program in Kansas, the Kansas Department on Aging, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program is partnering with the local Central Plains Area Agency on Aging to recruit and train individuals interested in fighting Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  

It is estimated that Medicare loses approximately $68 BILLION annually to fraud, errors, and abuse.   This type of loss directly affects Medicare beneficiaries as it reduces funds that could be used to increase and improve health care services.  The increasing waste of Medicare funding can also be considered a factor contributing to increases in the cost of health care for beneficiaries and the decrease of covered services under their plan. 

The threat of Medicare fraud in Kansas exists.  Within the last year, multiple Medicare schemes have been reported across the state.  These scams know no bounds.  From the telemarketers, to the junk mail, seniors are being targeted daily by deceitful people with ill intentions.  Now more than ever it is important for seniors to take a stand against these schemers and report any suspicious activity to their local SMP, Medicare, or their local law enforcement.  

Volunteers are needed to assist with this effort.  The Senior Medicare Patrol asks volunteers to serve in a number of ways.  Opportunities include activities that range from distributing SMP materials such as brochures, flyers, and handouts, to activities that allow volunteers to meet with beneficiaries and answer simple questions or to connect them with the right person to answer more complex questions.  SMP staff will meet with volunteers individually to ensure that volunteers are given an opportunity to serve in a capacity that fits their time, interests, location and strengths.  Efforts are being made to target Spanish speaking volunteers who can educate and assist in the Hispanic Community.  

Here are a few tips to help protect yourselves and others from becoming a victim of Medicare fraud or abuse:

Review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN).  This document should be reviewed as you would review a credit card statement.  We encourage seniors to read through their MSN carefully and ask questions when something does not look right.  If you do find a mistake contact the Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas.  A majority of the time when something is incorrect on a MSN it can be attributed to an error in coding.  However, there are some instances where there is more to the story and it is the Senior Medicare Patrol’s job to help connect you to the right people to resolve the issue.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 Currently there are scams designed to make victims believe they have won money, received free gifts, or free medical supplies when in reality these are all ploys to obtain personal information such as your banking account number, Social Security or Medicare number, or credit card numbers.  

Medicare does not make cold calls or house calls.  

If someone contacts you claiming to be with the federal government, hang up the phone, don’t answer the door, or get their name and contact information.  Do NOT give them your personal information without verifying that they are who they say they are. Medicare does not contact beneficiaries by phone or home visits. Be cautious of anyone claiming to be with Medicare and report them immediately to the Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas or Medicare.

Keeping Medicare dollars safe is everyone’s responsibility.  If you have a concern, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas for more information on how you can protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud by calling 1-800-860-5260 or visit the website at www.agingkansas.org.