SMP Program is Established
The Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 (P.L.104-208) affirmed AoA’s role as a key partner in the fight against health care fraud by establishing the program that would come to be called the Senior Medicare Patrol program in 12 local demonstration projects. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered legislative language that directed the AoA to form projects that would recruit and train retired doctors, nurses, and other professionals to identify and report errors, fraud, and abuse. A Senate report explained the rationale for the newly created program by saying, “Senior citizens are our best front line defense against these losses [from health care fraud and abuse], but they don’t have the information and experience needed” to recognize and accurately report cases of errors, fraud, and abuse. The Senior Medicare Patrol would address this problem through volunteers who provide consumer education that is, along with provider education, one of the five primary purposes that the HIPAA lists as an authorized use of HCFAC funding.