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Medicare Fraud "Police" on Patrol in NH

December 9, 2011

CONCORD, N. H. - Medicare scams cost the programs millions of dollars every year and contribute to rising healthcare costs for everyone – which is why the Medicare Patrol is out in full force in New Hampshire.

Karol Dermon is the Senior Medicare Patrol project director with the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services, part of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Dermon explains there are a variety of scams perpetrated by companies, as well as cons who target unwitting consumers. One questionable offer is a motorized wheelchair - with the company claiming the consumer can get it for free.

"Which is true – a provider could bill Medicare for services that are not, or equipment that is not, medically necessary."

And sometimes, Medicare is billed for equipment or supplies that are never received. Dermon says beware of official-sounding telephone calls or email messages in which you are asked to give out personal details, such as a Social Security number or banking information.

"There have been marketing scams, telephone scams – people getting calls saying, 'I'm representing your Social Security Office, and we want to let you know that you need to get a new Medicare Card. So, if you'll just give me your banking information, we can submit that.'"

Dermon says never give your Medicare number to anyone you don't know or trust, and don't carry your card with you unless you are visiting a doctor's office. If you have questions or concerns about Medicare billing or suspected fraud, call the New Hampshire Service Link number: 1-866-634-9412.

The Senior Medicare Fraud Patrol works to educate beneficiaries and family members in New Hampshire about recognizing fraud and checking for billing errors in statements. The program was recently awarded a grant of $88,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is currently seeking volunteers to help with outreach, adds Dermon.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH