'Senior Patrols' recover huge sums for Medicare, Medicaid

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During the first six months of 2004, Department of Health and Human Services Senior Medicare Patrol Projects have recouped more than $42,000 for the Medicare program and reportedly saved as much as $200,000 for both the Medicaid program and beneficiaries, according to a report by the HHS Office of Inspector General.

Senior Medicare Patrol Projects are overseen by the Administration on Aging. Through the program, actual beneficiaries are taught how to detect waste, fraud and abuse. The AOA recruits retired professionals to volunteer as educators and has awarded grants to 58 senior patrol projects. At least one patrol project exists in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Between January and June 2004, more than 250,000 senior patrols have been trained, the IG reported. Through the projects nearly 3,000 complaints, of which more than 500 were reported to Medicare contractors for follow-up, according to the report.

Since their inception in 1999 senior patrol projects have recovered or saved nearly $4 million for Medicare and Medicaid programs.

"Performance Data for the Senior Medicare Patrol Projects: October 2004 Performance Report" is available at
http://www.oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-02-04-00360.pdf.