Braley tours Care Center, discusses fraud prevention

Representative Bruce Braley, left, spoke with Care Center Administrator Dr. Janette Simon and staff member Jim Powers about quality resident care - which includes the view from Acre Street. Simon told Braley, "The view of the river is very orienting and calming for residents." (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

The Guttenberg Care Center welcomed representative Bruce Braley on Tuesday, April 15. The congressman visited to discuss senior fraud and his recent efforts to protect Iowa’s seniors from scam artists. Braley also spoke in depth with Care Center Administrator Dr. Janette Simon about the challenges and achievements of care facilities in rural Iowa. 

On a tour of the Care Center’s neighborhoods, Simon and Braley discussed a wide variety of topics, including funding and regulations, the assisted living and outpatient therapy additions that are underway, and a four-year study conducted at the Care Center which proved that residents involved in meaningful planned activities had increased appetites and decreased need for pain medication. 

Braley recently announced his support for two pieces of legislation aimed at senior fraud prevention. The Anti-Spoofing Act would prohibit deceptive caller ID spoofing—a popular scam that defrauds unsuspecting seniors by displaying a name or entity on caller ID that appears to be trustworthy.

“As technology changes and criminals find more sophisticated ways of deception, it’s important we continue to fight this type of financial exploitation of seniors,” Braley said. “This legislation will keep these pathetic frauds from preying on Iowa’s seniors, and I’m proud to support it.”

In 2009, the Truth in Caller ID Act was signed into law to prohibit caller ID spoofing when it is done to defraud or otherwise cause harm. The Anti-Spoofing Act improves, updates, and expands upon this existing law by broadening it to include text messaging and new internet-based telephone services, as well as expanding the law to prevent spoofing from foreigners. This problem has been reported in parts of Iowa as well as surrounding states, and Braley has set up a Consumer Protection page on his website for constituents to read more about how to protect themselves from other deceptive and fraudulent practices.     

The Protecting Seniors from Health Care Fraud Act of 2013 would create a list of the top 10 most prevalent health care fraud schemes targeted at seniors with policy recommendations on what can be done to stop them. The list would be updated and mailed quarterly to seniors, keeping them up to date on which scams are most prevalent—and encouraging seniors that encounter those scams to report them.  

The legislation has received the backing of many national organizations, including the AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, Medicare Rights Center, and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. 

“This bill will help educate Iowa’s seniors to avoid Medicare fraud,” Braley said. “There are predatory con artists that look for new and creative ways to defraud Iowa’s seniors, and this law will make it harder for them to succeed in those efforts.”

“Iowa has one of the highest populations of seniors in the country, which makes demand for senior services in our state very important,” Braley told The Press. On travels last week, he talked to care facility staff and patient families about the ways they address concerns about scams. In Guttenberg, he chatted with Care Center staff and residents, sharing his personal reasons for championing senior issues. 

“I had an uncle who lived next door to me when I was growing up. He was my little league coach,” said Braley. His beloved uncle eventually moved to a care facility in Braley’s hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. The facility has since cared for a number of his family members. Braley watched the facility being built when he was a child, and visited with his church choir to offer music to its residents. “It gave me a much deeper appreciation for these care facilities in Iowa,” he said. 

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