What is SMP?
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Program is designed to involve retired professionals as volunteers in the education of their peers in safeguarding the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Program grew from the development and success of the Operation Restore Trust program that was launched in 1995 under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Operation Restore Trust was an anti-fraud cooperative partnership program originally developed in five states to test innovative safeguards in fighting fraud and abuse in both the Medicaid and Medicare programs. In 1997, Operation Restore Trust expanded to 12 additional states including Arizona.
About The Program
It was discovered through focus groups, training activities and education seminars that many seniors were not comfortable discussing their problems about health services, durable medical goods, etc. with strangers or to younger people that had no idea of the problems they, as Seniors, were facing. Because of these issues and others the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Administration on Aging sought to ensure the comfort and consideration of Senior Citizens nationwide. The Senior Patrol Program was then implemented to address Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
SMP in Arizona
Sponsored by the Division of Aging & Adult Services, the Arizona Senior Patrol Ferret Out Fraud Program recruits and trains retired and semi-retired professionals to educate their peers on how to identify and report potential waste, fraud and abuse. The program establishes multilingual components for the implementation and support of the Ferret Out Fraud Program.
The program works in collaboration with the Arizona State Health Insurance Assistance Program and the local Area Agencies on Aging. On occasion, the Senior Patrol volunteer is also a SHIP counselor trained as both a Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Specialist and insurance counselor. The retired volunteer professionals use established training programs to educate and disseminate information to Medicare beneficiaries, their families, caregivers, and social service professionals. The Senior Patrols advocate for beneficiaries on Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse issues as well as enhancing and expanding partnerships in support of the program.
The Administration on Aging now awards grants to 52 projects, operating in 48 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. These projects are helping older Americans better understand their Medicare/Medicaid billing statements, so that they can take appropriate steps to correct errors. Through these kinds of programs, beneficiaries can become better health care consumers and play an important role in helping the Medicare/Medicaid programs avoid payment errors.
Senior volunteers undergo several days of training, reviewing health care benefit statements and outlining the steps seniors can take to protect themselves. Volunteers work in local senior centers and other sites where Medicare beneficiaries gather teaching such skills as:
- How to treat their Medicare number as they would their credit cards
- How to use journals to keep track of their medical services and health care instructions
- How to read their Medicare Summary Notices
- How to get answers to billing questions
The Senior Patrol Program is a vital and important part of the senior community. You can get involved by volunteering, hosting a presentation or attend a training. For further information or to schedule a presentation, call your local Area Agency on Aging.