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Nov. 22, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. Kansas will receive a $100,000 grant to help fight Medicare fraud, officials at the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today.
The state's Senior Medicare Patrol Program — which is administered by the Kansas Department on Aging — originally received $182,352 to fund its efforts this year.
The new supplemental grant is to fund outreach, education and volunteer recruitment for harder to reach rural and Hispanic populations, said Craig Kaberline, who has overseen the program since September.
The increased funding is provided for by the Affordable Care Act as part of initiatives to educate consumers about health care waste, errors, fraud and scams. CMS officials announced $9 million of new grant money to be distributed nationwide. Nearly all states and some U.S. territories received grants ranging from $20,000 to $447,000 each.
Kansas' patrol program — which employs Kaberline and a fleet of volunteers — began in 1997 and works to increase awareness among Medicare beneficiaries about how to detect and report health care fraud. Volunteers teach Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers how to monitor their Medicare notices to identify errors or potentially fraudulent activity.
Kaberline said the program receives about 200 reports per year of suspicious activity. He said the program educates about 2,000 people per year and has 61 currently active volunteers.
He said one of the more common reports received is about diabetic supplies.
"I had an individual call me whose mother received her diabetic supplies locally and suddenly received shipments of diabetic supplies from five companies from out of state," Kaberline said. "When she checked her mother’s Medicare statement, all five had been billing against her mother’s Medicare number."
Other scams include offers for "free" scooters and durable medical equipment, and calls to seniors from people claiming to be a bank representative, he said.
"The caller tells the person that they know where they bank and have the routing number for their bank and just need their account number so they can process their Medicare coverage payments," Kaberline said. "The caller tries to convince them that this will save them from having to write a check. In the case of the bank, they typically look for seniors in small communities (where) most everyone in town banks at the same bank, and bank routing numbers can be found on the internet. The caller tells the senior that they need to verify information including their Social Security number."
Amounts recovered or avoided through the work of the patrol program were not available, Kaberline said.
Those who suspect attempted fraud may contact the Kansas patrol program at 1-800-860-5260.
More information on the program is available at agingkansas.org.