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Common Sense On: Preventing Medicare fraud

June 28, 2010
By U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
Earlier this month, Iowa seniors impacted by the “donut hole,” or the Medicare Part D coverage gap, began to see some of the first benefits of the new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Tax-free, $250 rebate checks were mailed to seniors who have already hit the donut hole and do not receive Medicare Extra Help to defray the cost of their prescription drugs. These one-time checks will continue to be mailed on a monthly basis as additional seniors reach the donut hole. Last year, 43,106 Medicare beneficiaries in Iowa fell into that category

Unfortunately, this new help has come at a cost and we are learning that it has become an attractive target for scammers. There are numerous reports of seniors receiving calls or letters claiming they must provide their personal information in order to receive their rebates. These calls and letters falsely claim that seniors need new Medicare cards, ask Medicare enrollees for confirmation of their Medicare numbers and even go as far as telling seniors that the new legislation requires them to change to their health care benefits. All of this is false and seniors must be vigilant in guarding against such scams.

In order to be safe and protect your identity, do not give out your personal information. Seniors or family members should contact 1-800-MEDICARE to report any suspected fraudulent calls or letters. You can also visit

The Affordable Care Act makes great strides in combating fraud and abuse of the Medicare program, as well as other public and private health insurance plans. This month, as part of this renewed effort to keep criminals from taking advantage of seniors who have worked so hard for their Medicare coverage, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior officials from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched a national education effort to ensure that seniors and their families have the tools to identify potential scams when it comes to their Medicare benefits. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers seniors additional information on avoiding and reporting fraud at

With good information and common sense we can avoid Medicare scams and ensure that the Affordable Care Act will bring about the promise of health reform to all of America’s seniors.

Article Photos

Senator Harkin



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