Sacramento, CA — The Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) presented four awards to California’s Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program at the 2011 National SMP Conference in Washington DC, August 9, 2011. These awards included:
- Innovation in Collaboration and Partnership Activities Award (California tied for 1st with Texas);
- Complex Issues Award for having one of the highest number of referrals (California placed 3rd out of 54 SMP programs);
- Volunteerism Award for having the largest number of volunteers in the workforce (California placed 5th with 224 volunteers); and
- Health and Human Services Performance Award for the highest number of beneficiaries educated and served (just under 19,000).
“Our California SMP program with our strong, growing volunteer force went above and beyond this year serving beneficiaries throughout the state. They are highly committed to making the difference and they do. We are fortunate to have such high caliber volunteers out there fighting fraud,” said Julie Schoen, California SMP Project Director.
In 2010, the 54 SMP programs nationwide received expanded funding to help older Americans prevent, detect and report health care fraud. “In such tough economic times, the fact that the SMPs received increased funding is a testament to their ability to decrease waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system, saving valuable funds,” said Angela Brice-Smith, director of the Medicaid Integrity Group/Center for Program Integrity at CMS and one of the awards presenters.
California’s SMP Program, as reflected in its awards, has effectively put these increased funds to use creating an innovative statewide volunteer recruitment and educational outreach campaign. Through a combination of radio, TV, and print ads, California’s SMP increased its volunteer enrollment by 84%. In addition, they are reaching English-speaking and limited English proficient populations, such as beneficiaries who speak Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Russian and Arabic to alert them to the problem of Medicare fraud, the danger of medical identity theft, how to prevent it and how to be a part of the solution.
The SMP program was established by federal law in 1997 and is administered by the AoA. The SMP program recruits and trains 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