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Senior Medicare Patrol – Policing for Fraud

August 10, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Medicare and Medicaid fraud costs the nation billions of dollars a year, but some volunteers will be learning about the latest scams and how to combat them this week at a conference in Washington.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program trains volunteers to help educate their peers about spotting fraud and abuse. David Carter, who attended an SMP training session last winter, says he hears from many seniors that they don't even look at their monthly statements.

"Most people say, 'I don't understand my Medicare statement.' That is so important to read that, and understand what's going on because people are spending money in their behalf, or abusing the system in their behalf."

SMP volunteer Carol Gwenne-Vaughan admits Medicare statements can be overwhelming.

"You get this piece of paper that's got 10 or 15 hospital visits or lab visits, and you don't remember when you went or who you saw. And it does, it gets very confusing."

That's why it's important, she says, for the SMP volunteers to help seniors understand their statements and spot inconsistencies.

Carter says we hear all too often about the billions being scammed from the Medicare system.

"Looks like it's gonna get nothing but worse in the future, and if I can help a little bit, save us a little bit, maybe there'll be something there for my kids, and now my grandchildren."

This week's conference also will focus on how organized crime is involved in health-care fraud.

SMP training is standard nationwide, so snowbird volunteers can help in another state when they're away during the winter months. Those interested in volunteering can call 1-800-986-3503 or their local Area Agency on Aging, or go to smpresource.org.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN