December 16th, 2020
A Letter From AgeOptions CEO, Diane Slezak
Dear Illinois SMP Fraud Alert Readers,
 
I can’t believe it has been 25 years! In 1995, AgeOptions received its first grant for what would become the Senior Medicare Patrol and ever since AgeOptions, our Aging Network partners and our volunteers have led the way in fighting health care fraud. You can read more about that history from Bill Benson and Jon Lavin here and here.
 
While a lot has changed in the past 25 years, the simple message of SMP has not. The best defense against health care fraud is consumers, empowered by knowledge of how programs like Medicare and Medicaid actually work. AgeOptions is proud to work with all of the Area Agencies on Aging in Illinois to localize the SMP message and to host volunteers who share this fraud prevention message with their peers. 
 
However, we cannot be complacent with the success that we have had. Scams and frauds have become more sophisticated and have significantly increased in frequency since SMP started 25 years ago. While many of these scams are not related to Medicare, they do impact the ability of older adults to thrive as they age. A smarter consumer who can recognize a scam and take proactive steps to protect themselves from scams is also one who is less likely to be susceptible to Medicare fraud. For example, AgeOptions has been offering presentations from the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau’s Money Smarts for Older Adults as an additional way to engage older adults in protecting themselves from financial abuse and scams. We will look for ways, such as this, to build on the strengths of the Illinois SMP for a more comprehensive approach to preventing, detecting and reporting health care fraud, financial abuse and other consumer scams.
 
During the last 25 years, Illinois SMP has been an amazing and successful program that has met the challenges of its time. That continues today with the current SMP team who switched to virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to lead the SMP network in adjusting to this new virtual outreach world. The future is bright for this program, and I look forward to the next 25 years of SMP
Diane Slezak
AgeOptions President and CEO
Diane Slezak is AgeOptions President and Chief Executive Officer. Diane has served with the agency since 1976. She has advocated for and facilitated the establishment of new programs to serve elders including the Elder Abuse Program, the Caregiver Program and others.  In 1999 she worked to design and establish the Health Care Choices Program (now Avisery) that assists older persons understand and make informed choices about their health coverage including Medicare and Medicaid.  

Diane served on Illinois Steering Committee to implement the Self-Neglect Program within the Adults Protectives Services Program. Diane was responsible for establishing the annual Celebrating Aging fund raising event for AgeOptions. 

Diane’s past and current experience in the volunteer and community sectors include:
·       Board of Directors and officer, Fillmore Center for Human Services
·       Board of Directors and Officer, Community Care Options 
·       Board Member and Vice President Terra Nova
Wheaton College, Wheaton Illinois, BA
Dominican University formerly Rosary College, MBA Concentration Public Administration
Have a safe and healthy Holiday Season!

We will see you after the New Year!

Travis Trumitch
travis.trumitch@ageoptions.org
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This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0036, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.
The Illinois SMP at AgeOptions partners with agencies across the state to empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors, and abuse through outreach, counseling, and education.

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