Senior Medicare Patrol recognized for fraud-busting

Colorado’s Senior Medicare Patrol is tough on Medicare fraud and was recently recognized for its efforts.

The Colorado Division of Insurance’s Senior Medicare Patrol received three national awards for its role in combating Medicare fraud.

Colorado was recognized for being among the states with the highest number of Medicare fraud cases referred for investigation – 87. SMP also was recognized for the cumulative highest dollar amount referred for further action, which was more than $156,000. Once investigated by SMP staff, cases were referred to the appropriate federal entity for further investigation.

SMP has “a particularly skillful team of investigators, educated in what fraud looks like,” said Alice Ierley, SMP director at the Division of Insurance.

The U.S. Administration on Aging recently handed out the awards at the 2011 SMP National Conference in Washington, D.C.

Efforts by SMP staff to combat Medicare fraud “are a vital part of making sure benefits such as Medicare are available to people who genuinely are entitled to them, and an investment in the future stability of that program,” said Commissioner of Insurance, Jim Riesberg.

SMP is a part of the Senior Health Insurance Program, a federally-funded program housed within the Division of Insurance. The purpose of SMP is to provide consumer education on fraud, increase reporting of suspected fraud and abuse, assist consumers in the resolution of fraud and abuse complaints and ultimately decrease the incidence of fraud and abuse.

A third award given to the SMP is the Volunteerism Award, given for overall increased volunteer program capacity. More than 100 volunteers were trained in how to root out Medicare fraud in 2010, and they also are involved in public outreach and education efforts, Ierley said.

To volunteer for the Senior Medicare Patrol, or to report fraud, call 1-800-503-5190 or send an email to smp@dora.state.co.us.