For 25 years, Illinois Senior Medicare Patrol, widely known as SMP, has been a leader in fighting health care fraud. In 1995, AgeOptions was awarded one of the first five grants for a federal demonstration project to provide outreach and education on Medicare fraud. Since then, AgeOptions SMP staff, partner agencies and volunteers throughout the state have been empowering consumers to prevent, detect and report health care fraud. Last year they reached 31,417 people.
During its first 25 years, Illinois SMP has been at the forefront of innovation and outreach in the national SMP network. SMP staff at AgeOptions work with state and federal agencies to uncover and prevent fraud, and have assisted in numerous activities to identify and stop fraud and scams. In 2018 Illinois SMP was credited with $38 million in Medicare recoveries.
At the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, President Bill Clinton talked to the previous administration’s neglect of Medicare. As a result, there were major concerns related to the fraud and abuse that was occurring in the program with millions of dollars misdirected without serious examination. He said his intent was to initiate a concerted effort to guard Medicare dollars in “Operation Restore Trust.” One component of that program was the engagement of Medicare beneficiaries to guard their own program. We received a small contract based on our work with a volunteer-centered Red Tape Cutter Program to help define how older persons could inform each other on the practical steps needed to guard their benefits.
This program became the Senior Medicare Patrol. AgeOptions applied with the support of all 13 Illinois Area Agencies on Aging to be the Illinois program. Our first leader of the program was Mimi Toomey, who is now in a high position at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Jason Echols put us on the map with his work on volunteer policies and procedures. We have championed the concept and the delivery of the message for those 25 years.Jonathan Lavin
AgeOptions CEO 1978 – 2018
Illinois SMP stays on top of current scams and provides updates on health care and other types of fraud and scams in its biweekly Fraud Alert. Click here to sign up to receive Fraud Alerts by email.
Illinois SMP actively works with the news media to inform the public about fraud. Click on the links to see recent television reports featuring SMP Coordinator Travis Trumitch. Genetic Testing Fraud, CBS 2 Chicago Medical Equipment, CBS 2 Chicago
Illinois SMP has received awards throughout the years, and staff members have been appointed to national committees and served as panelists on national webinars. They include the national SMP Award of Excellence, the Barbara McGinity Award, in 2018.
The Administration for Community Living and the National SMP Resource Center recognized Illinois SMP as the first state to switch to virtual outreach by creating and hosting an online webinar series broadcast to Medicare beneficiaries and professionals across the US.