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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2010
COLUMBUS - Partners in the State of Ohio's Take Action - Protect Yourself from Fraud program are cautioning seniors with Medicare to be on the alert for a Part D prescription drug coverage scam involving the $250 "doughnut hole" rebate checks. President Obama and Governor Strickland both warned seniors that scam artists are calling seniors to solicit their personal information, such as social security numbers, bank account information and Medicare numbers, incorrectly claiming they need this information to mail the Part D rebate check.
The first batch of one-time rebate checks, a result of the federal health care reform Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), has been mailed by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. The rebate checks will be mailed monthly throughout the year as new beneficiaries hit the doughnut hole, the portion of Part D coverage when a beneficiary pays all of his or her prescription drug costs out of pocket.
Insurance Director Mary Jo Hudson and Aging Director Barbara Riley urge Ohio seniors to be vigilant and use the tools provided by the Take Action program to avoid becoming a victim and to report any unscrupulous activity.
"We want Ohio seniors to clearly understand that the federal government will be directly mailing them their Part D rebate check when they hit the doughnut hole," Director Hudson said. "If someone says they need your personal information to mail you the rebate or they can help you get your check more quickly if you pay them a fee, immediately report this scam to the authorities."
Last year, roughly 156,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Ohio hit the doughnut hole.
"This rebate program is a first and crucial step to improved prescription drug coverage for older Ohioans, and I am appalled that some people are exploiting this opportunity for personal gain," Director Riley said. "Consumers who take an active role, seek information and take action against scams like this are key in making the schemes go away. Our aim is to arm all Ohioans against this and other types of consumer fraud."
Take Action and AARP Ohio Tips and Information:
Launched in May, Take Action focuses on alerting consumers to types of deceptive sales practices and schemes currently occurring in annuities, living trusts, stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI), reverse mortgages, Medicare sales and health care fraud. Take Action also assists Ohioans in safeguarding their online information and warding off unwanted telemarketers and spammers.
A free consumer guide provides background facts on areas where people are exploited and serves as a workbook listing important questions to ask. The guide is available at www.takeaction.ohio.gov, an interactive Web site filled with tips on how to recognize, avoid and report fraud. Consumer stories about fraud and successful encounters overcoming it will be published on the Web site.
In addition, senior groups and associations can request a speaker for a workshop or ask for a panel of government experts to talk about fraud. Representatives from the Ohio Department of Insurance, the Ohio Department of Aging, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the Office of Attorney General Richard Cordray, the Office of State Treasurer Kevin Boyce, Ohio Consumers' Counsel, and the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio will participate on panels.
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.
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