The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 1, 2010
Scam warning for seniors seeking Medicare rebates

The federal government next week will begin issuing rebate checks to help seniors recoup money spent to bridge a Medicare drug coverage gap.

Eligible seniors will receive the money automatically, Medicare officials said, and they advised seniors to be wary of anyone offering services - for a fee - to help Medicare beneficiaries claim the rebate.

"Our message is: You don't have to do anything. We have the data. We will mail out the checks," said David W. Sayen, administrator for Medicare's San Francisco regional office.

"Anytime there is a new program, people will see it as an opportunity" to take advantage of the potentially vulnerable, he said.

Several million Medicare beneficiaries qualify for the one-time rebates. The checks are part of the massive health care legislation signed into law earlier this year.

The $250 rebate is intended to begin to plug the Part D doughnut hole - the drug coverage gap that requires seniors to pay the entire cost of prescriptions until they hit the catastrophic coverage level.

With public confusion over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries will soon be receiving mailers about what they can expect.

Marilyn Tavenner, the acting national administrator for the federal insurance program for seniors, warned of "scam artists" who could try to defraud seniors.

He urged seniors to call the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general to report possible scams: (800) 447-8477.

For more information, visit

-- Bobby Caina Calvan

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