Sacramento, CA — Earlier this month, the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, honored the contributions of 10 senior volunteers who serve as community educators and resources in the Administration’s effort to detect, prevent and report fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. One of the people honored wasCalifornia Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) volunteer, J. Ray Jones of San Francisco.
“Ray Jones is a stellar advocate and we are fortunate to have him aboard. He’s one of those people whose life is a dedicated act of service,” said Julie Schoen, California SMP Project Director. “In addition to his rich career in computer programming, banking, finance and economic development, he has done over 20 years of volunteer and advocacy work with San Francisco’s United Methodist Glide Memorial Church, served on ARC’s board of directors, and has contributed years of consulting services with various organizations on ending discrimination and promoting cross-cultural understanding. He gives and gives, and has made and continues to make our world a better place.”
Jones first became a volunteer counselor with the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) in the fall of 2010. Through his training and counseling with seniors, he soon became present to the massive volume of fraud and theft and amount of tax payer money lost to fraud; he desired to do something about it. When asked to also work with the SMP program as San Francisco’s regional SMP Liaison, he jumped on it!
Jones takes on the fraud cases from the other HICAP counselors in the S.F. area, does preliminary investigation work and then sends on his reports to California’s main SMP office for follow-up. He also does SMP outreach and speaking engagements educating the public on fraud. He quickly and easily gains the confidence and trust of people, which then leaves them naturally engaged in working with CA SMP to prevent and report suspected fraud.
Jones jokes that before becoming involved with HICAP and SMP, he got several calls from people trying to give him “free supplies” – i.e. wheelchairs, etc. Now that he recognizes this as fraud and knows what to do, he’s just waiting for such a call to come again….and they’re not coming!
When thanked for all his good service, Jones smiled and said, “It’s natural to be grateful for what you have and desire to assist others who are less fortunate. It’s in our DNA.” He then passionately added, “And I’m the fortunate one. The beauty of volunteering is the volunteer receives so much. When I’m helping a senior with a problem and then see the relief on their face when we resolve the issue, that is all the payment one needs.”
The SMP program was established by federal law in 1997 and is administered by the AoA. The 54 SMP programs nationwide recruit and train retirees to educate their communities to detect and report health care fraud and abuse and to help persons with Medicare and Medicaid to correct billing errors. In California, SMP volunteers are available in each county through the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP).
The California SMP program is based with California Health Advocates, an independent non-profit organization that provides quality Medicare and related health care coverage information, education and policy advocacy. CHA equips community organizations and government agencies with up-to-date information, especially the 24 local HICAPs, which provide benefits counseling and community education directly to those with Medicare and their families. For more information, visit its website atcahealthadvocates.org.
SMP Project Director