SAGE: Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
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Medicare Fraud

Senior Medicare Patrols (SMPs) empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education. SMPs are grant-funded projects of the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Administration for Community Living. In 2013 more than 1 million people were served nationally by the SMP program’s outreach and education efforts.

Key Facts

Every year thousands of Medicare beneficiaries have their Medicare numbers stolen.

Medical identity theft can happen when a Medicare number is misused—this can happen by a provider, a supplier or by someone pretending to be the Medicare beneficiary to receive care.

Since Medicare numbers cannot be changed, having a stolen (or "compromised") number can impact the beneficiary's future benefits for years to come. According to the SMP Resource Library, approximately 250,000 Medicare beneficiaries are listed as having had their medical identity compromised.

There are several ways that providers can diminish patient care in order to improperly bill Medicare including giving false diagnoses and charging for tests and treatments that never happened. Sometimes Medicare services have limits so if Medicare has already been charged for certain services, a beneficiary may have a problem getting Medicare to approve payment when a service is actually necessary.

SAGE’s Work

SAGE is engaged in a national outreach campaign with SMPs across the country to help SMP staff and volunteers understand the unique needs of LGBT people, including how to best outreach to LGBT older adults to teach them about fraud prevention and what special concerns they may have regarding fraud. Accessible on both SAGE and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging's website, we have created a toolkit of materials including:

SAGE also has a PowerPoint for use when presenting to LGBT audiences, and a number of social media memes, for SMPs and others to spread the word about preventing Medicare fraud. Finally, we teamed up with the SMP National Resource Library to facilitate four web seminars for SMP projects across the country to train them on understanding the needs of LGBT seniors.

To learn more about the Senior Medicare Patrol program and LGBT elders, please contact Hilary Meyer, Director of National Programs, at 212-741-2247 or

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