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In the latest move in its fraud and abuse campaign, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced 41 grants totaling $7 million to expand a program that recruits and trains retired professionals to identify waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The Senior Medicare Patrol Project grants, including 29 new and 12 renewed grants, will be distributed among 38 states, as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. They are administered by HHS’ Administration on Aging to teach volunteer retired professionals such as doctors, nurses, accountants, investigators, law enforcement personnel, attorneys, teachers, and others how to work with Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Volunteers work in their own communities and in local senior centers to help identify deceptive health care practices, such as overbilling, overcharging, or providing unnecessary or inappropriate services, according to a statement from HHS secretary Donna Shalala.
The Senior Patrol project is part of the administration’s broad initiative to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid, including extensive efforts by the Health Care Financing Administration, which administers the programs, and by the HHS Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice.
Savings for this effort, including program and payment integrity improvements, total more than $38 billion since 1993. In addition, convictions and other successful legal actions stemming from anti-fraud and abuse efforts have increased more than 240% during this period.
The HHS Inspector General’s toll-free hotline has received more than 50,000 tips warranting follow-up, the HHS announced. In addition, HHS earlier this year joined with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in an outreach effort to AARP members to help identify possible waste, fraud, and abuse by examining Medicare statements.