Q: In the past I’ve heard about Medicare fraud and how important it is for everyone to fight it. I’m sure fraud occurs in all areas of care but am concerned with services provided by in-home agencies. What red flags would you suggest we look for?

A: You are correct. Fraud occurs in all areas of our health care system. Although most home health care agencies are honest, there are a few who commit fraud.

To know if billing for services is correct you need to be aware of two things. First you need to understand exactly what services your doctor has prescribed for your care. You will also need to educate yourself as to what Medicare does and does not cover

If there is something in your care plan that you don’t understand ask questions. Continue to ask until you are satisfied that you understand what services you are to receive and what to expect from those services.

Don’t hesitate to question the in-home health care agency about visits by the home health care staff that you feel are excessive or unneeded. Always check your Medicare Summary Notice carefully. Make sure the dates of service match the dates you were visited and that the description of the care provided is correct.

Always question payments made for services or equipment that you never received. Never give in to pressure to accept services or equipment that you know are not prescribed as part of your care plan.

The doctor approving your home health care service should be involved in your care and if changes to your care are suggested your doctor should be involved in determining those changes.

Be suspicious of any agency that offers you free services or equipment in exchange for your Medicare number. Treat your Medicare and Medi-Cal numbers like they were cash or credit cards and never give your number to anyone who doesn’t have official need for it.

If you suspect fraud you should call Medicare at the Customer Service telephone number on the front of your Medicare Summary Notice. Each call will be taken seriously.

Q: Last year you wrote about A Salute to Veterans event that was to take place at Cypress Place in Ventura. Do you know if that event is scheduled again for this year?

A: Yes, it is to take place on June 29 starting at 11 a.m.

A military color guard presentation will lead the tribute to those who have served their country which will include recognition of widows and widowers of veterans.

The keynote speaker will be Capt. Chris Janke, commanding officer of Naval Base Ventura County. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, Ventura City Fire Chief David Endaya, Ventura Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Stephanie Caldwell and Ventura City Councilwoman Cheryl Heitman will also address the gathering.

The ceremony will be followed by a free barbecue lunch and an opportunity to view a Veterans Memorabilia Display.

Free shuttle parking will be available at the Ventura Baptist Church at 5415 Ralston Street (at the corner of Ralston Street and Saratoga Avenue.)

This powerful event is free and open to the public. It will start promptly at 11 a.m. at Cypress Place Senior Living which is at 1200/1220 Cypress Point Lane. For more information or to RSVP (by June 28) call 650-8000.

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