Congress recently enacted a bipartisan solution that will end annual challenges to Medicare’s steep cuts in reimbursements to physicians and other health care professionals. The “Doc Fix” legislation ends an era of uncertainty for Medicare beneficiaries and their physicians by improving the way Medicare pays doctors.

The legislation also includes a variety of efforts to fight Medicare fraud and abuse.

Provisions that will help keep Medicare beneficiaries safe from fraud and identity theft, such as removing Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards, and the future development of improved incentives for Medicare beneficiaries to report Medicare fraud, mean an increased role for the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program under the law. 

AgeOptions coordinates SMP in Illinois with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. 

AgeOptions, with partner area agencies on aging, other Illinois organizations and dedicated volunteers, teaches people how to protect themselves from Medicare fraud through precautions such as not carrying Medicare cards in their wallets. 

Since the new requirement to remove Social Security numbers will be phased in over eight years, the SMP message continues — guard your Medicare card.

We are pleased that the new law addresses consumer protection issues. Medicare beneficiaries are the best front line defense against fraud and abuse, and this bill also highlights the role that SMPs and our volunteers can play in empowering beneficiaries to fight fraud. 

Medicare fraud and abuse not only steals taxpayer dollars, it can prevent people from accessing services when they need them.

For more information about SMP or Medicare fraud, visit the SMP website,

Carol Mattar, public relations coordinator


Oak Park