Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is warning senior citizens to beware of scams that may play off the federal Medicare program, which is sending the first 80,000 rebate checks today to senior citizens who fall into the so-called “donut hole,” the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug reimbursement coverage. About four million seniors will get such checks in 2010.
“We expect con-artists will try to take advantage of the publicity and interest in this program,” Miller said. “Scams migrate to where the money is and the publicity is,” he warned.
“Beware of someone contacting you and saying you need to fill out a form or provide your personal information such as your Social Security or Medicare number to get the rebate,” he said. “That’s a scam to get your personal information and most likely commit identity theft.”
Miller said his office received several calls in the last few weeks from older Iowans reporting that someone had called, said they were with Medicare, and asked for personal information. The older Iowans did not give up the information.
State and federal officials are teaming up in an ongoing to effort to battle Medicare scams and fraud that could victimize older persons or the Medicare program itself. [Go to letter to State AGs from US Attorney General Eric Holder and US HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius.]
The “Donut Hole” $250 checks will go automatically to qualifying seniors – seniors are NOT required to fill out any forms or provide personal information such as Medicare or Social Security numbers.
The remainder of the four million checks will be sent monthly throughout the year as beneficiaries enter the coverage gap. (The “donut hole” indicates a situation where a senior’s prescription drugs cost too much to be reimbursed through basic Medicare coverage, but aren’t expensive enough to qualify for catastrophic coverage, as described by CNN Money.)
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