Every year the Medicare system is drained of billions of dollars as a result of fraud, waste, errors and abuse – almost 3 billion dollars in California in 2008 alone! Since 1997 California Health Advocates has received a grant to fund and support California’s Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) project from the U.S. Administration on Aging, and continues to be one of the top performing programs in the nation. Our SMP staff work closely with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to educate Medicare beneficiaries and their caretakers to become critical health care consumers. Our staff and volunteers enable Medicare beneficiaries to identify suspicious situations or billings, and thereby help ensure Medicare’s solvency for future generations.
At this year’s national SMP conference in Washington D.C., Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathlene Sebelius emphasized the importance of this national program stating that “the strongest defense against crime is not law enforcement, it is informed citizens”. Fifty-four SMP projects operating nationwide have reached over 20 million people since the program started in 1997. California’s SMP reached over 26,000 people last year through community presentations and material distribution at health fairs.
As the government is projected to spend $425 billion on Medicare and $200 billion on Medicaid this year alone, paying 3 million claims to 1.5 million different suppliers and providers daily, Sebelius stated that ensuring claims payments are processed quickly, efficiently and legitimately is a top priority. SMP staff and volunteers are the eyes and ears of Medicare making sure this happens.
In recognition of CHA’s SMP project’s stellar work, HHS Secretary Sebelius presented 3 national awards to our SMP project for having the:
- Most developed and reported complex fraud cases in the nation.
- Highest number of volunteers (over 400 volunteers statewide).
- Most people reached through Community Education presentations (over 12,000 people in 2008).
One of CHA’s bi-lingual SMP volunteers, Man Ping Zhou, was also recognized as one of the top 10 volunteers nationwide for her work in Asian outreach and translation services. Congratulations Man Ping Zhou! And congratulations to our SMP staff for their quality work and leadership in the Medicare fraud prevention field.
- View photos in our PDF slide show of the 2009 National SMP conference.
- Read more about Medicare fraud.