National SMP Conference Launches a Fresh Look in a New Era of Consumer Protection

In an effort to enhance its national identity and foster greater awareness, the national Senior Medicare Patrol Program has officially adopted a new program identity. The Senior Medicare Patrol Program is now formally referred to as the SMP program with a new logo and official tagline: “Empowering Seniors to Prevent Healthcare Fraud.” Standardizing the name, logo, and new materials used by all SMP programs nationwide helps unify the program’s best efforts in preventing healthcare fraud, and with the new tagline, helps effectively express to others the current mission, role and activities of the program.

The Administration on Aging’s (AoA) National SMP Conference in December 2006, “A New Era in Consumer Protection,” launched this new identity and was a great success. Both Julie Schoen and Anne Gray, California Health Advocates’ SMP Project Director and SMP Project Coordinator respectively, played integral roles in the planning and production of the event. Julie facilitated a panel of 14 participants who had directed SMP Integration grants in 2004-2006 and had each participant give an overview of their best practices. Julie was later recognized for her national contributions to the SMP by receiving a “gold star” award at an evening reception event.

Anne also participated in a role play with the Denver regional office staff. The skit embodied the importance of the role of communication between project coordinators and AoA staff, as well as provided a little levity to the occasion. Anne was given a special mention at the awards reception.

Another conference highlight involved the unveiling of several public service announcements which featured California Health Advocates’ own Sacramento SMP volunteer Rozella Boyce. Rozella began as a fraud reporter and has since blossomed into a media “star”. She was presented with a Shining Star Award for her role in fraud prevention and fraud education, and, in her acceptance, won the audience over with the sincerity and wisdom of her message.

Combining the SMP conference with the AoA Senior Summit Conference, Secretary Leavitt also spoke on the theme of “Working Together to Build the Future of Long-Term Care.” This theme embodied the concepts of seniors beginning to own their own future and consolidate funds for more continuity of care.

In all, the conference portrayed a nationwide concern for the future of not only the Medicare system, fraud and abuse (in which Medicare lost approximately $10.8 billion in 2006 to improper Medicare payments) but also an overall concern for our nation’s current healthcare system. The SMP Program, which provided fraud prevention education to over 1.2 million beneficiaries and providers last year, plays an integral role in preserving and securing the healthcare system of America’s older adults and younger people living with disabilities.