North Central News

Program warns of Medicare scams

There is still a great deal of uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act and what it means, especially among the country’s senior population. It’s a scenario that scam artists relish, and they are already using confusion about healthcare changes for their financial gain.

Area Agency on Aging Benefits Assistance Program Director Glen Spencer and SMP volunteer Bobbie Garland giving an SMP presentation at the Phoenix Area Agency on Aging (submitted photo).

Area Agency on Aging Benefits Assistance Program Director Glen Spencer and SMP volunteer Bobbie Garland giving an SMP presentation at the Phoenix Area Agency on Aging
(submitted photo).

Scammers prey on Medicare beneficiaries in particular. Not only is it unethical, but the annual cost of health care fraud in the United States is in the billions, according to Patricia Gonzalez-Emblem, SMP director for the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Division of Aging and Adult Services.

Arizona is ramping up its efforts to help Medicare beneficiaries proactively protect themselves against fraudulent, wasteful and unethical healthcare practices by offering its statewide Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) project. This project is part of a nationwide Administration on Aging initiative that educates and counsels beneficiaries to be alert and aware of scam activity.

SMP volunteers conduct outreach through group presentations at senior centers, senior housing complexes, churches, and more. Organizations and facilities that serve a population of Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of the program by scheduling a free SMP presentation.

“Face-to-face interaction is the most effective way to reach seniors with this information, which is why we need volunteers in communities throughout Arizona,” said Gonzalez-Emblem.

To schedule an SMP presentation, call 602-542-6439 or visit www.azdes.gov/daas/ship/ferretoutfraud. If you suspect Medicare fraud, call the statewide toll-free number at 800-432-4040.

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