Medicare fraud and abuse is a growing problem that affects beneficiaries and taxpayers across the country. The Senior Medicare Patrol is designed to combat the issue of Medicare fraud and abuse by providing outreach and education to seniors. The Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas's (KS SMP) mission is to empower seniors to "Protect, Detect and Report" Medicare fraud, errors and abuse.

It is estimated that Medicare loses approximately $68 billion annually to fraud, errors and abuse. This type of loss directly affects Medicare beneficiaries as it reduces funds that could be used to increase and improve health care services. The increasing waste of Medicare funding can also be considered a factor contributing to increases in the cost of health care for beneficiaries and the decrease of covered services under their plan.

The threat of Medicare fraud in Kansas exists. Within the last year, multiple Medicare schemes have been reported across the state. These scams know no bounds. From the telemarketers to the junk mail, seniors are being targeted daily by deceitful people with ill intentions. Now more than ever it is important for seniors to take a stand against these schemers and report any suspicious activity to their local SMP, Medicare or their local law enforcement.

Here are a few tips to help protect yourself and others from becoming a victim of Medicare fraud or abuse:

* Review your Medicare Summary Notice. This document should be reviewed as you would review a credit card statement. Read through your MSN carefully and ask questions when something does not look right. A majority of the time when something is incorrect on a MSN it can be attributed to an error in coding. However, there are some instances where there is more to the story.

* Keep your Medicare card in a safe place; do NOT carry it with you regularly. Your Medicare number is someone's Social Security number.

* If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Currently there are scams designed to make victims believe they have won money, received free gifts or free medical supplies. In reality these are all ploys to obtain personal information such as your banking account number, Social Security or Medicare number or credit card numbers.

* Medicare does not make cold calls or house calls. If someone contacts you claiming to be with the federal government, hang up the phone, don't answer the door, or get their name and contact information. Medicare does not contact beneficiaries by phone or home visits.

Keeping Medicare dollars safe is everyone's responsibility. If you have a concern, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol of Kansas for more information on how you can protect, detect and report Medicare fraud by calling (800) 860-5260 or visit the website at www.agingkansas.org.

Thanks for help

This year, 2012, is the 40th anniversary of Meals on Wheels in Garden City. Many thanks to the Garden Valley Retirement Village staff and Duane Riley who delivered Meals on Wheels last week.

Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m, followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercise begins at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. The board meeting for the Finney County Senior Citizens Association begins at 3:15 p.m. Yoga begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday has duplicate bridge at 2 p.m.

Monday begins with walking at 8:30 a.m. The Humdinger Band practices at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. The Upbeats Band practices at 3 p.m. Duplicate bridge meets at 7 p.m.

Tuesday has gentle exercises at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m.

Aug. 22 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. Pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. Completely Unraveled meets at 1 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance begins at 7:30 p.m. Music is provided by the Kenny Pruitt band. The recommended donation is $5. Bring finger food for the break.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Chicken strips, potato salad, Scandinavia vegetables, wheat roll, fruit salad.

Friday: Barbecue beef on a bun, baked beans, creamy coleslaw, plums.

Monday: Meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, green beans, wheat roll, citrus fruit.

Tuesday: Turkey, potatoes and gravy, three-bean salad, wheat roll, fruit gelatin salad.

Aug. 22: Philly steak sandwich, tator tots, carrots, ambrosia.

Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.