Watch out for the knee brace Medicare scam

Senior Center News
Thursday, January 24, 2019
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We served 77 meals at our birthday dinner in the Hardin Senior Center on Jan. 16. Three birthday guests were in attendance: Bill Eshleman, and brothers John and Greg Schaff.

The hostess was Vi Lazz, who provided special treats at the guest’s table for them.

First Interstate Bank employee Violet Hankel helped to serve the roast beef dinner to our patrons. The bank sponsors the birthday dinner ingredients for the Hardin and Lodge Grass Centers each month.

The birthday cake was a donation gift from Shirley and Cliff Groombridge. It was made and decorated at Reese & Ray’s IGA bakery in Hardin.

The 50-50 drawing was held by the Seniors Association. The winner was Charlene Warren with $41. She donated the amount back to the Association.

The Seniors Association donated to the C.O.A. meals and transportation program, bought new aprons for the C.O.A. employees and has bought a new Blu-ray DVD player for the senior center.

Patrons of the Hardin and Lodge Grass senior centers were encouraged to take part in the congregate meals more often, as our funding depends on the number of services provided.

A suggestion was made that perhaps the senior citizens from Crow Agency could come to the Hardin Senior Center by Crow Transit and join us. The donation cost of the meal is $4.50 for seniors over the age of 60. If anyone from that area would like more information or to make reservations, please call Joni Schaff, Council on Aging director, at (406) 665-2581. Your presence would be appreciated.

Recently, a couple in Hardin was hounded by a Medicare scam offering a knee brace. The telemarketers will keep calling until they wear you down and you give in to whatever is being offered.

Whether it’s an “as seen on TV” ad or someone calling you claiming to be from Medicare, these are scams. The best way to get a new knee brace is to meet with a doctor face-to-face who can get you a properly-fitting brace that will help relieve your pain.

It’s understandable to want a quick fix if you or a loved one is in pain, but understand that as soon as you call the number on your TV or tell a caller on the phone you are in need of a knee brace or back brace, you are opening yourself up to more phone calls and attempts to get your information. Scammers call offering braces as well as other durable medical equipment.

The reason these fraudsters are hawking back and knee braces in that Medicare will pay for them, as Medicare has not reduced its reimbursement amounts for these durable medical equipment items. The back brace or knee brace that was billed as “free” is not free at all. Later, Medicare will be billed.

Medicare gets a bill for the knee, back or arm braces for thousands of dollars (each brace cost from $1,000 to $2,000), when in reality a back or knee brace costs far less than that.

To mitigate Medicare fraud, only answer the phone if it’s a caller you know.

If you do answer the phone and it’s a solicitor, hang up. If it’s a postcard or email, discard it. Turn off or disregard TV ads offering free back or knee braces.

If you do talk to the solicitor, tell them you’re going to report them for Medicare fraud and you’d like to be removed from their list.

Never give out your Medicare card number, Social Security number, birth date, bank account info or credit card number to an unknown party. This goes for over-the-phone, on email or social media.

Always double check your Medicare statement for errors.

Report instances of fraud to Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-551-3191.

As for the couple who was being hounded constantly with the phone calls, it took their granddaughter hours to get ahold of a real person at the number that was calling them, where she tried diligently to get the calls stopped. Hopefully, it worked.

Coming up next week at the senior center is a blood pressure check at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30 by Esther Wynne and Fun For You day in the afternoon on Jan. 30.

Stop in at the Hardin Senior Center to pick up your new February menu/calendar so you won’t miss out on anything.

Hardin Senior Center menu:

Thursday, Jan. 24 – salmon loaf, creamed peas, au gratin potatoes, dessert
Friday, Jan. 25 – spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, dessert
Monday, Jan. 28 – parmesan chicken patties, potatoes, salad, vegetables, dessert
Tuesday, Jan. 29 – beef stew soup, sandwich, dessert
Wednesday, Jan. 30 – baked potato with broccoli and cheese sauce, dessert
Thursday, Jan. 31 – burger bundles, scalloped potatoes, vegetables, dessert

Lodge Grass Senior Center menu:

Friday, Jan. 25 – chili, hot dog, fruit, cinnamon roll
Monday, Jan. 28 – chicken enchilada casserole, corn, corn bread, Reese’s bar
Wednesday, Jan. 30 – Tater Tot casserole, carrots, fruit, roll, pineapple upside-down cake