Permission granted to reprint these articles with credit given to Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol.
Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) – July, 2012 Monthly News You Can Use
Have You Checked the News on the Medicare Website?
You probably don’t think of checking Medicare’s website unless you have a question related to Medicare…………or maybe you’ve never visited the site. There’s more news than you might expect. Go to www.medicare.gov and on the home page look for “Medicare News.” Right now there is an interesting article titled, “How We Can Stop Older Americans From Being Bullied.” This describes warning signs that may indicate a elder abuse is occurring. It’s often not easy for any of us to ask for help, especially if we’ve been victimized. This article may help you become more aware of this issue and able to encourage a friend, neighbor or family member to ask for help if they are experiencing some type of abuse.
Are you considering trying to quit using tobacco? Medicare may cover smoking cessation treatment for you. This is a fairly new Medicare benefit that many are not aware of. On the home page you’ll see a link for “Ready to Quit Tobacco?”
If you don’t use a computer, ask your local library to help you access these articles or ask a friend or relative to look it up and print the articles for you. And keep checking back on the Medicare website for the latest news.
Think Medicare Fraud Won’t Move from Southern Florida to your Town?
Southern Florida is well known for a high incidence of Medicare fraud and law enforcement works very hard to detect and stop fraud in the area. When criminals feel the heat is on they know very well they can move to a less populated and quieter area to set up shop. Recently in U.S. District Court in Miami a woman pled guilty to involvement in Medicare and Medicaid fraud amounting to more than $63 million dollars. She was one of several employees of a business which allegedly committed these crimes. The other defendants are awaiting trial. The business operated in Miami but expanded to Hendersonville, North Carolina.
The business was operating outpatient mental health services and according to the indictment, recruited patients from assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Owners and operators of these facilities were provided kickbacks for referring patients, even when the treatment was not needed or not appropriate for the individuals.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice Press Release July 2, 2012
Iowa-Licensed Physician Disciplined for Improper Claims to Medicare
A doctor who is licensed in Iowa, agreed to pay Medicare and others $1 million as a result of a government investigation into Medicare and private health insurance claims she filed while practicing in Michigan. The Iowa Board of Medicine reported in their June 13, 2012 press release, that the physician has also had her Iowa license indefinitely suspended. According to the press release, the doctor prescribed an IV therapy that was not commonly covered by Medicare and other insurance so she submitted the health insurance claims showing she’d provided other IV therapies that were commonly covered.
Senior Medicare Patrol advises Medicare beneficiaries to watch their Medicare Summary Notices to see the description of the service or procedure that was billed to Medicare. If it does not match what was actually done for you, this is a red flag for an error or potential fraud………. Which leads to lost Medicare funds and can eventually lead to higher premiums or reduced benefits for everyone or it could lead to you having payment for a Medicare service denied because your records show you already had the service. This is why it is vital that you contact the health care provider if you have a question about what appears on your Medicare notices. If you cannot resolve the situation or have reason to suspect potential fraud, contact Senior Medicare Patrol at their statewide inquiry line 1-800-423-2449.
Grandparent Scam Still Stalking Older Iowans
An older woman from central Iowa was targeted by a scam artist following the theme of the “grandparent scam.” The caller was very convincing that he was her grandson who was out of the country, in jail and needed bail money. This woman was courageous enough to do the right thing, which is to stop a minute and think, end the call and then contacted her son to ask if her grandson was in trouble and needing help. Her son was able to contact the grandson and of course…………no trouble — he was fine! Her son also assisted her by contacting the local police and the Iowa Attorney General’s office to make them aware these scam attempts are still occurring.
Help Protect Young Children’s Identities
Older Iowans often read articles about how to protect their health and finances but most of us don’t want to focus all our thoughts just upon ourselves. This article is a little different; it gives you a chance to share some important information with your loved ones about protecting your grandchildren or other youngsters that are dear to you.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced their new publication, “Safeguarding Your Child’s Future.” They begin with the following statements. “Parents do a lot to protect their children from physical harm, from teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street to making sure they’re dressed warmly for a snowy day. Protecting their personal information is important, too.”
The FTC reminds parents to keep their child’s personal information in a secure place and advises against routinely carrying the child’s Social Security card with them. They mention to make sure your child’s information is safeguarded at school. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records; parents should be certain to read the notices schools give about these rights. It is important to know how to remove personal information from computers, cell phones and other electronic devices when they are disposed. The publication contains information about safe computer use and cautions about social media (like Facebook) and peer to peer software (don’t worry if you don’t know about this – they will!).
For these and many other tips, direct your loved ones who care for children, to the FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/child.shtm.
Prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator at Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging, Waterloo, IA email@example.com
Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Statewide General Inquiry Line 1-800-423-2449