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Date Posted: 11/21/2019

Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol Issues Alert About DNA, Genetic, and Cancer Screening Schemes

For Immediate Release:
Nov. 21, 2019

Media Contacts: 

Amy Webb
Chief of Communications
amy.webb@dhs.arkansas.gov

Marci Manley
Deputy Chief of Communications
marci.manley@dhs.arkansas.gov

 

Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol Issues Alert About DNA, Genetic, and Cancer Screening Schemes

Goal of scam is to get access to client Medicare information that could leave seniors facing bill for "free screening."

 

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol (AR SMP) is alerting older adults of a scam that is sweeping the nation and is on the rise in Arkansas where companies offer free DNA, genetic, or cancer testing in exchange for Medicare information. The goal of the scheme is to steal the Medicare number for medical identity theft.

The AR SMP, which empowers seniors to prevent Medicare fraud, has received reports from Medicare clients who have gotten solicitations from companies offering free tests referred to as cancer screening or test; DNA genetic testing or screening; pharmacogenomics-medication metabolization; and dementia screening or test (among others).

Seniors are contacted by testing company representatives in a variety of ways, including in person at community and senior citizens, at home through door-to-door solicitation, and through digital communications like phone, email and social media. Clients are told that Medicare will pay all costs for the screening, and they are asked for their Medicare number before they do the DNA cheek swabs. Medicare is billed for the services, which have not been deemed medically necessary and do not have an order for the testing from the client’s doctor. Medicare may deny these claims, leaving the client with the bill. Some clients reported gettng results showing “no cancer;” others reported never getting any test results.

The AR SMP has gotten several reports from Arkansans across the state targeted by this scheme, giving their Medicare information along with a DNA cheek swab. Some examples include:

Genetic testing fraud happens when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary or not ordered by a client’s treating physician. Genetic or DNA testing in a group setting is not routinely covered for Medicare clients. Because there is confusion about Medicare’s coverage for genetic tests for cancer and other conditions, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a fraud alert on the topic to help inform consumers. It advises the public to be suspicious of anyone who offers free genetic testing and then requests a Medicare number. You can read the OIG alert here.  

If you are a senior-centered organization or community such as  a senior center, wellness center, senior housing community,  or independent senior living community, please help protect seniors from being targeted by scams through screening individuals or groups asking to speak or host a presentation or social event for your seniors. You should also remind seniors about the risks of giving personal information to solicitors and visitors and make sure you know the content and topics speakers intend to cover.

The AR SMP suggests the following to seniors:

Do not agree to a DNA genetic test (cheek swab) from someone you do not know. If it is medically necessary, it must be ordered by your personal physician.

Do not give personal information, and do not agree to receive a DNA testing kit, from someone who contacts you offering a “free kit.”

Refuse to give personal information, especially your Medicare number, to accept free screening services such as a cheek swab from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, or any other community event.

Always review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) for charges for questionable lab tests. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” as service codes may indicate questionable genetic testing.

Report incidents and solicitations to the AR SMP – 866-726-2916.

About AR SMP:
The AR SMP strives to empower Medicare recipients in the fight against healthcare fraud. The AR SMP provides information and educational presentations to: help PROTECT seniors from Medicare fraud and scams; educate on how to DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and urge seniors to REPORT suspicious activity and errors on Medicare Summary Notices – thereby helping to protect the integrity of the Medicare Trust Fund.

Kathleen Pursell is the AR SMP Project Director and has been with the AR SMP program 14 years. The AR SMP program is funded by a grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) (90MPPG0031) and administered through the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Aging, Adult & Behavioral Health Services. To learn more about the AR SMP, click here

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Arkansas Department of Human Services
Arkansas Department of Human Services

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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