En español | The SMP DC office empowers and assists Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education. DC SMP is a grant-funded project of the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL). Our work is in three main areas:
- Conduct Outreach and Education: SMP DC gives presentations to groups, exhibits at events, and works one-on-one with Medicare beneficiaries. In 2013 more than 1 million people were served by the national SMP program outreach and education efforts across the country;
- Engage Volunteers: Protecting older persons’ health, finances, and medical identity while saving precious Medicare dollars is a cause that attracts civic-minded Americans;
- Receive Beneficiary Complaints: When Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members bring their complaints to - our office, we make- a determination about whether or not fraud, errors, or abuse is suspected. When fraud or abuse is suspected, –we make referrals to the appropriate state and federal agencies for further investigation.
History of the Program
SMPs are discretionary grant projects funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) through the Older Americans Act. ACL is headed by the Assistant Secretary on Aging, who is appointed by the president and serves under the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services. Every three years, ACL issues a new request for proposals for the SMP program and then competitively awards grants to a selected project in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The SMP program as we know it today was made possible by the 1997 Omnibus Consolidation Appropriation Act – legislation that formally supported enlisting seniors in the fight against Medicare fraud.
Since its inception in 1997, the SMP program has evolved from 12 regional demonstration projects to a nationwide program that serves every state, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.
The SMPs have been supported by an ACL-funded national resource center since 2003. The national SMP Resource Center provides this website about the SMP program and also provides direct technical assistance to the 53 SMP projects nationwide.
Become a Volunteer
The SMP DC program offers volunteers an opportunity to make an important difference in their communities. Volunteers take pride in working to ensure that the Medicare program will be protected for future generations. In 2013, there were 5,406 active SMP volunteers nationwide. Since 1997, more than 41,000 volunteers have helped the SMP program.
The Importance of SMP Volunteers
Former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke to SMP-offices around the country at the August 2011 national SMP conference and she had this to say about the role of SMP volunteers: “We know that one of the most effective and direct steps we can take to improve Medicare’s long-term health is ridding the program of waste, fraud, and abuse. And for the last 14 years, the Senior Medicare Patrol has been on the front lines of that fight. No one feels more strongly about keeping criminals out of Medicare than seniors themselves. When someone defrauds Medicare, it means higher premiums and co-pays for beneficiaries. It also threatens the program that they have worked so hard for – and that they want to make sure is there for their children and grandchildren.”
What SMP Volunteers Do
The SMP DC project- matches a volunteer’s skills and interests to the needs of the program. As a result, our volunteers may serve Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers in many creative ways. However, there are six types of activities most commonly conducted by SMP volunteers nationwide:
- Assisting with administration: Help with work such as copying, filing, data entry, and placing outbound phone calls in support of SMP activity;
- Distributing information: Help with transporting and disseminating SMP information materials to sites and events; may include presenting prepared copy or performing scripted activities for small groups;
- Staffing exhibits: Help by staffing information kiosks or exhibits at events such as health fairs; also may provide general information about SMP to the public and answer simple questions;
- Making group presentations: Help by giving presentations on SMP topics to small and large groups; may interact with the audience by answering questions and through discussion;
- Counseling: Help by having direct conversations with beneficiaries about their individual situations; may include review of personal information such as Medicare Summary Notices, billing statements, and other related financial and health documents;
- Handling complex issues and referrals: Help with in-depth interactions with beneficiaries who are reporting specific instances of health care fraud, error, and abuse; may act on behalf of a beneficiary to correct an error or refer suspected fraud and abuse to the appropriate authorities.
IF YOU SUSPECT MEDICARE FRAUD, ERRORS, OR ABUSE, ADDRESS IT IMMEDIATELY BY TAKING THESE STEPS:
- Rule Out Error: If you have questions about information on yours or your loved one's Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), call the provider or plan and ask for an explanation.
- Get Help From SMP DC: If you are not comfortable calling the provider or plan or if you are not satisfied with their response, you can get help- by calling SMP DC at 202-434-2099. We can help you: identify and report fraud schemes and deceptive health care practices, such as illegal marketing or billing for services that were never provided.
Contact SMP DC
We will return calls and emails within 24 hours or the next business day.
Legal Counsel for the Elderly – Senior Medicare Patrol
601 E St. NW
Washington, DC 20049-0001
- Theresa Brownson, SMP Manager
- Darnetta Adams, SMP Volunteer Specialist
- Lillian Lewis, SMP Administrative Associate
To Become an SMP DC Volunteer
Adult Protective Services: 202-541-3950
Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC): 202-724-5622
Better Business Bureau: 202-393-8000
D.C. Office on Aging (DCOA): 202-724-5622
Federal Trade Commission: 202-326-2222
Health Insurance Counseling Project (DC SHIP): 202-739-0668
Legal Counsel for the Elderly: 202-434-2120
SMP Resource Center
Social Security Administration: 800-772-1213