District Attorney George Gascón Announces Ways to Combat Medicare/Medicaid Scams
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2018
CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931 | NIKESH PATEL (415) 734-3205
DISTRICT ATTORNEY GEORGE GASCÓN ANNOUNCES WAYS TO COMBAT MEDICARE/MEDICAID SCAMS
SAN FRANCISCO - Today, as Californians are beginning to receive their new Medicare cards, District Attorney George Gascón announced ways to avoid healthcare scams alongside representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Health Insurance Assistance and Counseling Program.
"As nearly 60 million Americans will get new Medicare cards, we anticipate an increase in fraudulent activity, especially against our elderly community," said District Attorney George Gascón. "Anyone who receives these cards should protect them the same way they do their credit cards."
148,000 San Francisco residents will receive new Medicare cards in the mail as part of Medicare's year-long plan to provide new Medicare cards to nearly 60 million Americans across the country. The new cards are free and will arrive through the mail. The cards largely remain the same with one significant change: individuals' social security numbers will be replaced with a randomly assigned Medicare Beneficiary Identifier ("MBI") unique to each recipient. Benefits and access to services will not change. The new cards are part of an effort to prevent identify fraud, especially against seniors in our community. The San Francisco District Attorney's Office is the first office in the country to team up with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to warn recipients of the increase in scams associated with the new cards.
“Congress passed a law in 2015, MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act), that mandated CMS to replace all social security numbers on Medicare cards with a new randomly generated identifier number,” says Dr. Ashby Wolfe from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “These new cards are rolling out starting this month, April 2018. If people do not receive their cards soon, or if their neighbors get new cards earlier, they shouldn’t panic. All new cards are expected to be delivered by April 2019.”
There are many scammers who target Medicare beneficiaries in order to steal their identities and use them to obtain medical services. Due to the nature of Medicare/Medicaid fraud, it is often difficult to truly know how many people are scammed and how much is lost. Some estimates suggest losses in the 10’s of billions of dollars.
Recipients of the new cards should be wary of any calls or emails asking them to verify information to receive their new Medicare cards. Medicare will not contact recipients for personal information before they receive their card. Medicare will also not threaten to cancel health benefits unless personal information is provided.
Additionally, the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier number, while not a SSN, is still personally identifying information that can be utilized to commit healthcare fraud. Recipients of these cards should protect them like they would their other insurance cards or credit card. They should not let others borrow them. Recipients should only give their Medicare number to those who should have it, such as doctors, pharmacists, or insurers. They should also frequently review their Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) to check that they are only being charged for services they actually receive. As Medicare will provide the new cards free of charge, recipients should ignore all calls from fraudsters attempting to solicit payment from them.
Beneficiaries are encouraged to confirm their mailing address by creating a new account or by logging into their existing account at https://www.ssa.gov/
If individuals suspect they are a target of fraud, they should call 1-800-MEDICARE to report the incident. They can also call the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office fraud hotline at 415-551-9595.