Friday, September 30, 2016
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Consumer Fraud:

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 

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Dear SMP Readers, 


In this week's Fraud Alert, we have facts about the new Medicare card rumors and the conviction of an Illinois telemarketer for taking illegal kickbacks.


Read more in this week's Fraud Alert!

When Will I Get My New Medicare Card?

You may have heard that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be issuing new Medicare cards and wondered when you will be getting yours. The short answer is - not for a while. But scammers are not waiting to take advantage of any confusion about the new Medicare cards. Here are the facts...

Currently, if you look at your Medicare card, you will see that the nine digit number on it is a Social Security number, usually your own but it could be your spouse's, a parent's, etc. The problem is that a Social Security number is the key for a scammer to steal your identity and take out loans or open credit cards in your name. 

To address this, Congress passed a law last year called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which among other things, requires CMS to develop and implement a plan to give every Medicare beneficiary a new Medicare card with a new identifier that is not tied to a Social Security number.

However, this change is not happening immediately. Medicare is the largest insurance in the world, which is why this will be a huge change and why CMS and the many providers who accept Medicare need time to update their systems to accept the new identifier. CMS has begun outreach and education efforts with these providers.

Beneficiaries will not see their new cards before April 2018. That is the earliest month CMS has said they will start mailing new cards to beneficiaries. The new Medicare card will have a completely new and randomly assigned identifier that will be a mix of numbers and letters, 11 characters long. The change to this new card will not change people's Medicare benefits. Your benefits will stay the same.

Those are the facts. So how could a scammer use this change to take your personal information? This change has caused confusion, and scammers love to take advantage of confusion. We have heard reports of scammers pretending to call from Medicare asking for your current Medicare number in order to send you a new card. The fact is that Medicare already has this information, including you mailing address. When CMS sends a new Medicare card, they will mail it to you.

If you get a call like this, you now have the facts to call out the scammer. Do not give out your information. Report calls like this to the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.
Telemarketer Convicted of Taking Kickbacks for Referrals to Home Health

The owner of a telemarketing company in south suburban Cook County, Illinois was recently convicted by a federal jury of asking for and taking illegal kickback payments in exchange for referring patients to home health care agencies. Employees of this telemarketing company "were trained to cold-call Medicare beneficiaries and convince them to accept home health services." If the beneficiary showed interest in home health services, the employee would collect personal information, including their Medicare number, that was then shared with the home health companies who agreed to pay for these referrals.

This is not how Medicare's home health services work. Medicare is designed to only pay for medically necessary services, which is why it is so important to work with your doctor to ensure that you receive services that appropriately address your specific health needs. A telemarketer or other stranger who cold calls you is not your doctor and cannot know your medical needs. If you receive calls like this, tell the caller that you will get all the services you need from your doctor and hang up. You can report calls like this to the Illinois SMP at AgeOptions (800)699-9043.

For more information about this conviction, read this U.S. Department of Justice press release.

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to