Volunteers to learn about Medicare and Medicaid scams and counseling

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COLUMBIA – A conference Thursday and Friday will teach volunteers from around the state about Medicare counseling and preventing Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse.

CLAIM, the state health insurance assistance program, and SMP, the Senior Medicare Patrol program, are hosting the conference that will train the volunteers on how to help people navigate the Medicare enrollment process and how to educate people about avoiding fraud and abuse.

The SMP director, Rona McNally, said the Medicare and Medicaid programs lose an estimated $6.8 million every hour to fraud and abuse.

“To extend the life of the programs, we feel as though it’s very necessary to stop fraud and abuse of these programs, and the best way to do that is through education,” she said.

McNally said scammers like to take advantage of people when there are changes in the programs, like new Medicare cards, since people are less familiar with new rules and procedures. The volunteers will learn about upcoming changes and common scams so they can teach others about them.

The CLAIM director, Carol Beahan, said the volunteers will learn much about Medicare.

“We will have workshops on MO HealthNet assistance programs, we’re going to have a workshop on learning more about Medigaps and Medicare advantage plans,” Beahan said, “but what’s really on our mind right now is learning about new tricks in the Plan Finder and all the details of how we can navigate that program to help people make comparisons for Part D plans.”

Volunteers will also learn about public speaking and better counseling techniques.

Registration for the conference at Stoney Creek Inn will begin Thursday at 10 a.m., with the first session at 1 p.m. The conference will end Friday at 1 p.m.