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Ohio Department of Aging Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 11, 2010

State Cautions Consumers to Stop Others from Playing Games with Their Medicare Coverage
Consumers Are the First Line of Defense Against Medicare Fraud

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Aging, the state Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) project and other state and local partners are encouraging older Ohioans with Medicare to be alert to signs that someone may be committing Medicare fraud in their names. Consumers can protect themselves and help save tax dollars by reviewing their Medicare statements and reporting problems to their providers or the SMP.

"When someone plays games with your Medicare coverage, everybody loses," said Barbara E. Riley, director of the department. "Medicare fraud costs American taxpayers an estimated $60 billion each year, money that could have been used to provide medical care, support home care services and help people avoid unnecessary nursing home placements."

Fraud includes billing for services that were not provided or equipment that wasn't received, over-billing, "unbundling" hospital charges so you are billed separately and more. Older Ohioans can help fight fraud by carefully reading their quarterly Medicare Summary Notices and noting any charges they don't recognize or providers they haven't used. If possible, consumers should address issues first with their providers, but they also can call the state SMP hotline at 1-800-488-6070 for assistance. Other ways to prevent fraud include protecting your Medicare card much like you would your Social Security card, and not providing your Medicare number in exchange for free meals or prizes.

One more way to battle fraud is to be an active and engaged consumer of Medicare products and long-term care services. Consumers can get answers to basic Medicare questions and help selecting coverage that best fits their needs by contacting the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program at 1-800-686-1578. The Office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman can help consumers address concerns about long-term care providers; call them at 1-800-282-1206.

Ohio seniors who wish to help get the word about Medicare fraud to other seniors can call the SMP hotline number above to volunteer.

About ODA

The Ohio Department of Aging provides leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers. Working with 12 area agencies on aging and other community partners, the department offers home- and community-based Medicaid waiver programs such as PASSPORT, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.