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If you have older clients who are receiving long-term care (LTC) services, or clients with older loved ones receiving LTC services, here’s a new warning to give them: Strangers who come into LTC facilities and collect samples of the clients’ or residents’ DNA may be up to no good.

Officials at the Nebraska Department of Insurance put out a warning about possible DNA collection con artists in a notice issued last week.

(Related: Life Insurers Could Help Clients Decode Their Tumors: Idea File)

Nebraska department officials said in the notice that they and colleagues at the Nebraska Senior Health Insurance Information Program have received multiple reports of groups going to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers.

The groups are offering to collect material for DNA testing by swabbing the insides of older people’s cheeks.

The groups say they will use the cheek swab samples to check the residents’ DNA for signs of cancer, officials say in the notice.

Medicare does cover DNA testing for patients with cancer, but only when the providers and patients meet Medicare DNA testing requirements, and not for the chromosomes of people picked for testing at random, officials say.

“If a non-cancer patient is brought in for genetic testing under the pretense that it would be covered by Medicare, this may be a scam and should be avoided,” officials say.

Another possibility is that the groups collecting the samples, or the testing labs, might try to bill people for unnecessary DNA tests, officials warn.

Officials are asking members of the public to call it at (402) 471-0888 if they run into groups that are trying to swab seniors’ cheeks.

Resources

A link to a copy of the Nebraska elder cheek swabbing warning is available here.

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