October 19th, 2020
Former Illinois SMP Director
Reflects on Tenure and Future of Program
Illinois Senior Medicare Patrol at AgeOptions is celebrating 25 years of empowering consumers throughout the state to prevent, detect and report health care fraud. We work with 15 statewide agencies that help carry out our message through outreach and one on one counseling.

Over the summer, Illinois SMP's Marina Silva had a chance to speak with Erin Weir Lakhamani, former SMP Director from 2008 to 2012. Erin is now Senior Researcher at Mathematica.

Without advocates and leaders like Erin, the SMP program would not be the leader in healthcare fraud prevention that it is today. Please enjoy the interview.

Marina Silva (MS): What is your personal history with SMP?
Erin Weir Lakhamani (EWL): I served as the statewide coordinator for SMP from 2008-2012. When I started, I was the only SMP staff member at AgeOptions, and during this time the program really grew from one grant to two grants. The second grant that we received really developed the volunteer engagement aspect of the SMP program. AgeOptions hired two additional SMP staff members (Jason Echols and Peg Tully). Jason really developed the volunteer coordination within Illinois and during this time ACL also had an increase in volunteering nationally. Our partners at Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging and AgeSmart also really kicked off volunteer recruitment in those areas.

MS:What are you most proud of with SMP?
EWL: During this time, I was excited to be a part of this new aspect of the program. There were so many amazing volunteers with different backgrounds who brought so much experience, passion, and creativity. All of this helped boost the SMP program in so many amazing ways. The volunteers and the entire AgeOptions staff was always so passionate. 

MS: What do you hope to see in the future with SMP?
EWL: I have always been impressed with the creativity and adaptability. SMP really works with the ever-changing world, and SMP is very responsive and adaptive to all of the changes. The need of SMP to be educated and supported due to scams is CRITICAL. SMP provides key support for those who are experiencing fraud or may encounter fraud – this is the best proof that the need for the program is critical.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs are complicated and this opens the door to scams. People need SMP to help people untangle the mess once they are in it, and learn how to prevent being a victim to fraud. SMP embodies one of the most important things in the community, which is collaboration. SMP collaborates with so many agencies across Illinois and nationally – these partnerships are vital. It is such an important aspect and enables empowering and culturing communities. There is always something to learn within the SMP world. 

On behalf of the Illinois SMP Program, I would also like to personally thank Erin for creating a foundation for our SMP Program. Without the hard work and dedication of our past directors, we would not have nearly the success that we have now.
Erin Weir Lakhamani, Senior Researcher at Mathematica

Erin Weir Lakhmani (MSW, LSW) worked at AgeOptions from 2008-2016 and served as the statewide coordinator for the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program from 2008-2012. After her work at AgeOptions, Erin became the Director of Community Engagement for Molina Healthcare of Illinois, and now serves as a Senior Researcher at Mathematica, a policy research organization dedicated to improving public well being. In her current work, Erin conducts qualitative research and provides technical assistance on integrated care initiatives for individuals who are simultaneously eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (“dually eligible” individuals) and Medicaid managed care program implementation and oversight.

She also teaches a Health Policy and Aging course at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Throughout her career, Erin has worked to empower older adults with the information they need to successfully navigate U.S. health care systems and achieve policy changes that push those systems toward greater equity and accessibility for all.
Upcoming SMP Presentations
from AgeOptions
Chicago Ridge Public Library SMP Workshops
Types of Medicare Fraud               
October 21st    11:00 am
Tips to Prevent Medicare Fraud 
October 28th    11:00 am

If you use your phone for this meeting, use this log-in information:           
Meeting ID: 910 5561 0221#

Levy Senior Center SMP Workshops
 Senior Medicare Patrol Basics     
October 21st     2:00 pm
How to read your Medicare Summary Notice
October 28th     2:00 pm
Types of Medicare Fraud
November 4th  2:00 pm
Tips to Prevent Medicare Fraud 
November 11th 2:00 pm

If you use your phone for this meeting, use this log-in information:           
Meeting ID: 965 6348 4902#

Mather Telephonic Topics SMP Workshop
Senior Medicare Patrol Basics    October 20th   9:30 am

If you use your phone for this meeting, use this log-in information:           
Meeting ID: 386 399 7030#
Click Here for the direct Link.
Have a safe and healthy week!

Travis Trumitch
Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you would like to sign up to receive the Fraud Alert directly, visit click here.

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.

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area and visit our website to sign up for our Fraud Alert email list.