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AARP Vs. Feds Over Medicare Plans

February 25, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ They showed up by the hundreds in Boston and gathered in Atlanta, Miami, New York and many other cities.

On Wednesday, the elderly gathered across the country to discuss Medicare fraud. It’s a topic 82-year-old Ted Rubin was eager to tackle at a workshop in Boston, one of 30 organized by the federal government and the American Association of Retired Persons.

``I don’t want to sound like a speech writer, but Medicare is very dear to us seniors _ it’s sustenance for us,″ Rubin said. ``I thought it was really beyond time for the AARP to get involved in this.″

Rubin was among 500 seniors who attended the conference at Faneuil Hall, part of a nationwide effort to encourage 39 million elderly and disabled people who receive Medicare to examine their statements more carefully.

The program, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the AARP, urges recipients to blow the whistle if something seems amiss, such as double billing or billing for services they did not receive.

Rubin, a retired insurance salesman, said he caught a mistake five years ago on a statement that billed Medicare twice for a chest X-ray.

He said he reported it to the government after the hospital failed to respond to a letter he sent about the problem. Rubin said it underscored the potential savings he and others who rely on Medicare could reap for the system.

``If a million people can find $100, that’s $100 million,″ he said.

Medicare patients who find billing mistakes are asked to call a toll-free fraud hot line. The government is also offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to a large recovery of funds.

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