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Senior News: Learning to avoid Medicare fraud, abuse

Medicare fraud and abuse is costly for our nation, losing billions of dollars each year. But according to Oregon’s Senior Medicare Patrol, you can make a difference by protecting, detecting and reporting.

Protecting your personal information is the first and best line of defense in the fight against healthcare fraud and abuse. Treat your Medicare and Social Security numbers like a credit card number. Never give these numbers to a stranger, even when tempted by a friendly voice on the telephone who wants to help. Remember, Medicare doesn’t call or visit to sell you anything.

Another suggestion is to use a calendar or create a personal health journal to record doctor visits, tests and procedures. It’s like keeping a diary when you were a youngster, but instead of recording loves lost and found, you are tracking the ups and downs of your health. Oh, how times have changed!

It is also important to save your Medicare Summary Notices and any Explanation of Benefits. (If it wasn’t for my wife, I would probably toss them because I find them so difficult to understand.) You should review them for any potential errors or fraud — and then compare them to your personal health care journal and prescription drug receipts to make sure they are correct.

Look for charges for something you didn’t receive; billing for the same thing twice; or services that were not ordered by your doctor.

If you suspect errors or fraud, or have questions, call your provider or plan first. If you are not satisfied with their response, report your concerns to your local Senior Medicare Patron at 1-877-808-2468 or contact the Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon: 1-855-ORE-ADRC (673-2372) or

You can learn more about Medicare fraud at the Mid-Columbia Senior Center’s next “Lectures for the Curious” on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 11 a.m. Sue Ann Arguelles, the local SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) coordinator, will be the speaker.

Are you at an age where you feel you are invisible — seldom noticed or valued? Or are you one who makes enough noise you can’t be ignored? For our next “Let’s Talk: Conversations about Things that Matter,” on Friday, Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to noon, the theme will be “I’m Still Here! — Staying Visible.”

Wow, we have already entered the second half of Gorge Happiness Month. Here are a few more suggestions for things to do during this next week:

• Oct. 18 — Send a thank-you note

• Oct. 19 — Attend a new free class or event

• Oct. 20 — Bite the middle of a pencil for three minutes (your brain thinks you’re smiling – but everyone else will think you’re nuts!)

• Oct. 21 — Make plans for something happy next weekend

•Oct. 22 — Go for a walk

• Oct 23 — Smile at someone you don’t know

• Oct. 24 — Walk or drive a different route than you usually do

The name of the western that was the most watched television show in 1962, recounting the adventures of a group of settlers as they made their way from St. Joseph, Missouri to California, was Wagon Train. (I received correct answers from Betsy Ayers, Jess Birge, Louise Wooderson, Dale Roberts, Virginia McClain, Alice Mattox, Diana Weston, Lana Tepfer, Sharon Hull, Jerry Taylor, Jerry Betts, and Ruth Radcliffe, who told me that if you have an antenna you can watch Wagon Train every day at 4 p.m. on Channel 2.2. Since there were so many entries, Sharon Pevera, Sunny T. and Carol Stace, are this week’s winners of a quilt raffle ticket each.

Because last week’s question was so popular, I’m going to take it up a notch and see if you can remember the lead character in this classic American Western television series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. For this week’s “Remember When” question: In the half-hour television series Have Gun Will Travel (which I do remember watching), what was the name of the gentleman who travels around the Old West working as a mercenary gunfighter for people who hire him to solve their problems? And for bonus points, who was the actor that played that character?

Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer with a knight chess piece.

Well, it’s been another week trying to find the right word before I forget the sentence. Until we meet again, it is never too late to spread your wings and fly.

“Don’t be afraid. Because you’re going to be afraid. But remember when you become afraid, just don’t be afraid.” — Joan Jett, musician (You got that?)


Thursday (18): Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes (Music – Tom Graff)

Friday (19): Cheese Burger

Monday (22): Chicken Alfredo (Music – Bruce and Sher Schwartz)

Tuesday (23): Turkey and Gravy with Dressing

Wednesday (24): Chicken Fried Steak (Homemade Soup and Salad Bar)


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