Help prevent health care fraud

Dear Editor,

Medicare fraud and abuse can happen and does happen. Every year, Medicare recipients lose nearly $60 billion to scams, double billing, and other illegal practices that drain money from healt hcare programs that provide vital health care services to millions of seniors.

The national Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program is working to strengthen Medicare by recruiting and training retired professionals and other senior citizens to recognize and report both healthcare billing errors and suspected instances of health care fraud.

The Senior Medicare Patrol, Smpresource.org, is a group of highly trained volunteers who help Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries protect, detect and report health care fraud.

SMP volunteers teach Medicare beneficiaries how to protect their personal information, identify and report errors on their health care statements, recognize scams — such as illegal marketing, providing unnecessary services, and charging for services that were not provided — and report fraud and abuse to the proper authorities.

SMPs conduct outreach in their communities by presenting to groups, hosting booths at community events, providing one-on-one counseling, answering calls from citizens who wish to report fraud, and help distribute information to hard-to-reach communities. SMPs report suspected fraud to outside organizations that can investigate.

So how can you get involved? You can become an active SMP volunteer by contacting the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging at 205-670-5770 or 1-800-243-5463.

M4A is one of 13 area agencies on aging in Alabama and services Blount, Chilton, St. Clair, Shelby and Walker Counties. We are grant funded by the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

Crystal Crim

Calera