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 (HHS), U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL). Their work is in three main areas::
- Conduct Outreach and Education. SMPs give presentations to groups, exhibit at events, and work one-on-one with Medicare beneficiaries. In 2013 more than 1 million people were served nationally by the SMP program’s outreach and education efforts.
- Engage Volunteers. Protecting older persons’ health, finances, and medical identity while saving precious Medicare dollars is a cause that attracts civic-minded Americans. The SMP program engages over 5,000 volunteers nationally who collectively contribute approximately 150,000 hours each year.
- Receive Beneficiary Complaints. When Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members bring their complaints to the SMP, the SMP makes a determination about whether or not fraud, errors, or abuse is suspected. When fraud or abuse are suspected, they make referrals to the appropriate state and federal agencies for further investigation.
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. To learn more about The Center, click here.