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CLASSIC LIST

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14/Jul/2021

On May 12, 2021, the Court of Appeals of Iowa published its opinion number 20-1250 in Forbes v. Benton County Agricultural Society and reminded everyone that in order to avoid surprises that lead to bad settlement results, plaintiffs in liability cases or employers in Workers’ Compensation cases, should always  perform a lien investigation into the existence of any lien holders, entities, or plans that could assert a claim for reimbursement of paid claim charges (for this article, all simply referred to as liens).  The next steps upon identifying any such liens would be to follow up with lien resolution audit, analysis, and negotiation.   While the negotiation of the lien is often finalized after settlement, it is a form of malpractice for an attorney to move to settlement without first inquiring as to whether liens exist.

In August of 2017, Larry Forbes sustained an injury while on the premises of the Benton County Iowa fairgrounds, and hired an attorney to file a negligence action.  After initial discovery, counsel for the Benton County Agricultural Society (Ag. Society), made an offer to Forbes’s counsel to settle for $10,000.

The letter referenced TRICARE but not Medicare and stated: “Based on information you have provided to date, Mr. Forbes had an excellent recovery, and his actual medical bills totaled $2,732, for which TRICARE apparently had a subrogation interest.” Burris added: “There is no indication that Mr. Forbes had to pay anything out-of-pocket, or that the medical providers are actually charging anything beyond the $2,732 paid.”

After negotiating, Forbes agreed to settle his suit with the Ag. Society for $12,500. In return, Forbes would dismiss the suit with prejudice.  Counsel for the Ag. Society then informed Forbes’ counsel that if Forbes was Medicare eligible, her client would require “final CMS letter, showing the amount owed, if any, in reimbursement to Medicare.”  However, after reaching the agreement, Forbes’ attorney learned that Medicare was pursuing a Medicare lien in the amount of $25,482 for reimbursement of  conditional payments it made toward Forbes injury related medical expenses. Forbes’ attorney attempted to renegotiate the settlement once the existing Medicare conditional payments came to light. However, the Ag. Society pushed back, insisting Forbes accepted the agreed upon terms of the settlement and was aware of his obligations to Medicare.  The Ag. Society moved to enforce the settlement by filing a motion for summary judgment.

When the case went to court, Forbes argued the agreement was unenforceable and claimed there was a “mutual mistake” because the parties failed to reach a “meeting of the minds.” The Iowa District Court for Benton County disagreed with Forbes and ruled in favor of the Ag. Society granting it summary judgment, based on its position that the settlement contract was enforceable.  The Court of Appeals of Iowa affirmed the District Court’s ruling, reaching its affirmation under the theory that settlement agreements are essentially contracts and because the District Court properly applied contract law. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals confirmed that  the lower court record showed a “meeting of the minds,” and that Forbes therefore, bore the risk of the mistake.

The Court of Appeals provided a detailed analysis on how a party may be considered to bear  the risk of a mistake such as when:

“(a) the risk is allocated to him by agreement of the parties, or

(b) he is aware, at the time the contract is made, that he has only limited knowledge with respect to the facts to which the mistake relates but treats his limited knowledge as sufficient, or

(c) the risk is allocated to him by the court on the ground that it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so.”

The court decided that Forbes bears the risk of mistake in two of these exceptions:

“The first of those two exceptions is called “conscious ignorance.” See id. cmt. c. Under that exception, even if Forbes did not agree to bear the risk of mistake, he was aware when he agreed to the settlement that he had limited knowledge about potential Medicare payments. And despite that uncertainty, he “undertook to perform” the bargain. See id. In doing so, he assumed the risk of the mistake. See id. We agree with the district court that Forbes had exclusive access to his medical records and the ability to investigate whether Medicare would seek a recovery claim.

On the second exception, even if Forbes were not consciously ignorant about the possibility of a Medicare recovery claim, the district court was still reasonable in assigning the risk of mistake to him. See Pathology Consultants v. Gratton, 343 N.W.2d 428, 438 (Iowa 1984); see Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 154 cmt. a. As the court noted, Forbes’s fall occurred nearly two years before he sued. In that time, he had the opportunity and the burden to inquire thoroughly into the payment of his medical bills. It made sense for the court to allocate the risk of any mistake to Forbes.

The full opinion and summary of the case can be read here: https://www.iowacourts.gov/courtcases/12533/embed/CourtAppealsOpinion.

 

Takeaways

Lien Investigation should be addressed during the pendency of any liability claims to determine who is paying for the injured party to recover from their injury and whether they will be asserting any subrogation/reimbursement right lien.  This is especially important  for those who are eligible/enrolled in any type of government issued medical insurance plan such as Medicare, Medicaid, VA/TRICARE/CHAMPVA, or who works/worked for a government entity (Such as FELA or FEHBA), or whose health plan is governed by federal law (such as an ERISA plan).

Patience is a virtue, especially in Lien Resolution and Lien Investigation. CMS’ guidelines allow for up to a 45-day response per inquiry. VA/TRICARE/CHAMPVA often take longer.  Parties should take this into consideration and be proactive and inquire as to liens early in the case, so that if a settlement opportunity arises, they are able to have an accurate picture of all outstanding liens at the right time.  Otherwise, they may be settling prematurely and as Mr. Forbes learned, at their peril.

Neglecting to address liens at the start of settlement is taking an unnecessary risk.  Working with an experienced lien resolution group will often produce faster response times and outstanding resolution results.  This is due in part to familiarity with the various lien processes, having lien holder contacts on file, use of electronic portals and secure email systems of recovery agents, use of proprietary diagnosis review software. Knowing which remedies may be available when, and how to best use the facts of cases in favor of the injured party when applicable.

Medivest can help you navigate through the complexities of lien resolution while you work toward a desired settlement outcome. Call us to today to speak to one of our highly trained settlement consultants for a free lien case consultation. For more information about Medivest or to refer a case, please call 877.725.2467 | Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm EST.


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01/Jul/2021

On June 28th, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made two announcements. The first is notice of the updated MMSEA Section 111 Group Health Plan (GHP) User Guide, while the second concerns a new technical alert regarding the inclusion of Part D information in Section 111.

Updated MMSEA Section 111 Group Health Plan (GHP) User Guide and GHP 270/271 Health Care Eligibility Benefit Inquiry and Response Companion Guides

A summary of the updates that have been made in Version 6.2 of the MMSEA Section 111 GHP User Guide are listed here:

The CMS electronic file transfer (EFT) file-naming conventions for inbound and outbound files have been updated (Section 8.1.1).

To provide more accurate direction to submitters, instead of receiving the RX 07 error code (Beneficiary does not have Part D enrollment), Disposition Code 51 will be returned for those records where the submitted individual is not entitled to Medicare Part D (Appendix D).

A new Modifier Type Code (PVR) and Name (From a provider) have been added for unsolicited MSP response files, and the DTM code (Name of employer submitting the Data Match Questionnaire Response) has been removed (Section 7.2.10.6).

The following will become effective December 11, 2021:

Under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT Act) for Patients and Communities, Section 111 Responsible Reporting Entities (RREs) who provide primary prescription drug coverage must submit this information through the Section 111 process. To support their efforts, the Query-Only Response File layout will be updated to provide the most recent Part D enrollment information for beneficiaries. Additionally, process steps for installing and configuring the HIPAA Eligibility Wrapper (HEW) software will also be provided (HEW Query-Only Response File Record – Version 4.0.0, Appendix I).

The full guide can be downloaded here at CMS.gov.

Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Mandatory Reporting Provisions Section 111 of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act (MMSEA) of 2007

The purpose of the latest alert is to notify Group Health Plan (GHP) RREs of changes being made to the Query Only Response File. Effective December 13, 2021, RREs will need to provide current Part D enrollment information for a beneficiary if the profile indicates that it provides network primary prescription drug coverage via Section 111 reporting. Additionally, three new fields will be added to the Query Only Response File layout.

The full alert can be downloaded here at CMS.gov.

For questions regarding these updates and how they may affect you and/or your clients workers’ compensation or liability settlements, please contact Medivest here or call us at 877.725.2467.


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08/Jun/2021

On June 23rd, 2021 at 1pm EST, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host a webinar regarding the implementation of the Provide Accurate Information Directly (PAID) Act. The full notice can be read below:


 

CMS will be hosting a webinar to discuss upcoming impacts to Section 111 Non-Group Health Plan (NGHP) Responsible Reporting Entities (RREs) related to the PAID Act, which was signed into law on December 11, 2020. The intention of the PAID Act is to help NGHP Responsible Reporting Entities better coordinate benefits by providing additional beneficiary Part C and Part D enrollment information. This webinar will cover what the PAID Act is, details of the NGHP Section 111 Query Response File changes, information on the scheduled testing period and implementation timeframes. The webinar will also be followed by a live questions and answer session with staff from CMS and the Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center.

Questions for this town hall can be submitted in advance to PL110-173SEC111-comments@cms.hhs.gov. Please have your questions submitted no later than June 16, 2021.

Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM ET

Webinar URL: https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=PWXW2072056&p=9205987&t=c

and

Conference Dial In: 888-469-1074
Conference Passcode: 9205987

Please note that for this webinar you will need to use both the webinar link and conference call information above to access both the visual and audio portion of the presentation. Please plan to join at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the presentation.


 

Additional information on the PAID Act can be found hereIf you have questions on how topics discussed in this webinar this may affect your clients, please contact Medivest here or call us at 877.725.2467.


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02/Jun/2021

How Attorneys in Washington and Other States Should Prepare Their Clients and Themselves for Lump-Sum Settlements

Last month, Washington state governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that will allow injured workers to receive Workers’ Compensation (WC) settlements as lump-sum settlements for the first time.  Included in the bill, S.B. 5046 was an emergency clause that made it take effect immediately once it was signed.  Previously, injured workers in Washington state were required to receive WC settlements via structured settlement (annuitized) payments over time.  The COVID-19 Pandemic may have influenced this change and only time will tell if the decision will be good for the State of Washington.  Funding of WC settlements by structured settlements have always provided a sort of safety net so that if a WC claimant failed to preserve settlement funds in any one year, there would be another round of funding to help cover the medical needs of the claimant going forward.

 

Are There Risks with Lump-sum Settlements?

Lump-sum settlements offer the advantage of receiving money immediately, which can be helpful when large bills are looming overhead. However, injured workers who receive lump-sum settlements are naturally prone to misuse the medical portion of their settlement funds for several reasons. Disregarding any malicious intent, its not uncommon for misuse to occur due to:

  • Lack of Expertise – Inability to seek or negotiate for the best price on products and services due to a lack of knowledge about fee schedules, rates, coordination of benefits, medical billing department practices and policies, and negotiation.
  • Dependence on Willpower – Decisions are at the mercy of the beneficiary’s self-control.
  • Outside Influences – Life circumstances, including needs and wants, or even manipulation by family members or friends creates pressure to spend imprudently.

 

Workers’ Compensation claimants may face sanctions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency charged with administering the Medicare program, which include denial of future medical care under Medicare for the WC related injury that was compensated, and obligation of repayment to Medicare for conditional payments made by Medicare, which can potentially be up to double the amount owed or otherwise carry high interest on unpaid Medicare Secondary Payer statute (MSP) debt. However, consequences of misuse of funds are not limited to just the claimants. Their attorneys may also share responsibility.

 

What Does This Mean for Attorneys in Washington State?

Attorneys in Washington, and any other state that allows lump-sum payments for Workers’ Compensation settlements, must make every effort to ensure that their clients are considering Medicare’s future interest in their settlement and have a plan for future care that will protect Medicare from being prematurely billed for any injury related and Medicare allowable future medical component of the WC settlement. CMS identifies the legal support providing why an attorney could be in its cross-hairs as a target of a MSP recovery penalty for a claimant’s misuse of funds in its April 22, 2003 memorandum.

  1. CMS may sue for repayment from all parties involved in the settlement, including the claimant’s attorneys. Double damages may also be sought against the “primary payer” under the authority of 42 CFR 411.24(c)(2), and if the government is unable to recover against the “primary payer,” against the “beneficiary.” 42 CFR 411.24(l)(1).
  2. CMS outlines the “ethical and legal obligations” of attorneys representing Workers’ Compensation claimants when their clients chose to “ignore Medicare’s interests in a Workers’ Compensation case,” citing to the CFR section that gives CMS a claim against the attorneys.

 

How to Protect Future Medicals and Your Own Future

For the protection of all parties involved, CMS highly recommends Professional Administration for a Medicare Set-Aside account.  It effectively eliminates or significantly reduces the likelihood of misuse of MSA funds, assuring the settling parties remain in compliance with the letter and spirit of the MSP thereby protecting both the claimant and attorney. Additionally, Medivest’s Professional Administration services can often stretch the medical portion of the settlement funds, helping to ensure that medical funds are available for a longer period of time than if self-administered.

Medivest can help you navigate through Medicare Secondary Payer compliance complexities while you work toward a desired settlement outcome. Call us to today to speak to one of our highly trained settlement consultants for a free lien and MSP futures case consultation. For more information about Medivest or to refer a case, please call 877.725.2467 | Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm EST.


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01/Sep/2020

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On Friday August 21, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced a $53,295 settlement of Medicare Secondary Payer Act, 42 U.S.C. §1395y(b)(2) (“MSP”) debt.  The settlement described in the press release demonstrates the U.S. Government’s continued interest and intent in enforcing the recovery provisions of the MSP.

Headlines on MSP recovery often focus on plaintiff attorneys who fail to adequately address Medicare conditional payment reimbursement claims, often called Medicare liens by attorneys and Medicare beneficiaries.  However, at fault parties and their insurance carriers need to pay close attention to these MSP recovery actions.  That is because the MSP provides for joint and several liability of primary plans such as liability carriers and self-insureds, including the potential for double damages, even after settlement proceeds have been paid and a release has been signed.

While the plaintiff attorney is the focus of the headline “Harrisburg Law Firm Pays $53,295 To Reimburse Medicare Program” the press release indicates that one of the defendants in the underlying improper drug dispensing case, paid $33,750 of the $53,295 to the U.S. for settlement of the MSP debt.  Insurance carriers or self-insureds sometimes insist on forwarding the lien payment to Medicare because they don’t want to pay a settlement to the plaintiff, only to later be asked to pay the Medicare portion (or more) again, if the plaintiff’s attorney has not timely paid the lien.

There is no information about why the plaintiff’s firm did not pay the amount demanded, but ultimately paid $19,545.15 toward the debt in this settlement with the U.S. Government.  The conditional payments were described in the press release as being $84,353 with the ultimate settlement amount being $53,295.  This seems to indicate that a 36.82% procurement cost reduction was allowed.  The settlement did not include a double damages request or even include any additional interest.

It is not clear from the press release whether there were any appeals over the amount of Medicare’s demand “determination” that led to the delayed payment of the lien and whether the release agreement contemplated the defendant/primary plan agreeing to pay the Medicare debt from withheld settlement funds.   Did the parties do their due diligence in investigating the debt?  Did they coordinate with each other over whether any Conditional Payment Letters contained amounts not related to the claimed/released injuries?  Did they coordinate their respective settlement notification/reporting to make sure that the ICD codes reported from the plaintiff and defense were aligned, and to help prevent an overreach in the future by Medicare in potentially flagging more than just injury related claims.

Could it have been similar to the recent Osterbye case in which the parties seemed to rely on Conditional Payment Letters as opposed to the official Medicare demand at the time of settlement? See JOSEPH C. OSTERBYE, as Administrator of the ESTATE OF…, Slip Copy (2020) 2020 WL 3546869, June 30, 2020.  In Osterbye, the Administrator of an estate of a deceased Medicare beneficiary sued the U.S. Government and the primary plan defendant alleging that there was a mistake of fact as to the amount owed to Medicare when the plaintiff failed to recognize that two files had been opened for the same case.  The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had “initiated” a separate conditional payment claim with Medicare without disclosing to plaintiff the amount of the separate conditional payment amount and arguing that plaintiff would not have settled the case if he had known that Medicare had a lien for over $100,000.00.  At the time of settlement, the Conditional Payment Letter that the plaintiff was in possession of only indicated about $13,000.00 in conditional payments.  In Osterbye, the NJ U.S. District Court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss on the basis that the settlement may have been entered into based on mistake of fact indicating that the facts of the settlement will have to be investigated.   A similar issue was also addressed in the Langone state court case referenced in a prior blog article where parties mistakenly relied on Conditional Payment Letters instead of a demand letter.

Take Aways:

While some insist MSP recovery obligations are solely a plaintiff’s concern, defendants should pay close attention to make sure the debt is satisfied or otherwise resolved – Medicare will issue a case closed letter once the debt is satisfied even when a compromise is reached for an amount lower than the demand

Not all courts will be as accommodating to the plaintiff’s attorney as in the Osterbye Court.  Instead of a second bite at the settlement apple, the plaintiff’s attorney in Osterbye could have just as easily been accused of legal malpractice by the injured party, if there was a lack of disclosure or lack of competence by the attorney in verifying the proper amount of Medicare’s demand

Plaintiff and defense should cooperate with each other over what steps are being taken to confirm conditional payment resolution, including whether either party has hired a third party to investigate, audit, and/or negotiate the demand balance

Both parties should know that it is imperative to obtain a demand letter as opposed to a Conditional Payment Letter prior to settling a case unless the correct procedures have been taken via the Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Portal to provide the 120 day anticipation of settlement notification and to request the Final Conditional Payment Calculation within 3 days of a settlement the details of which need to be timely reported

Plaintiff attorneys should be proactive in addressing Medicare’s past interests in a settlement by auditing payment summary forms to dispute non-injury related items, should timely notify Medicare of the settlement details to obtain procurement cost reductions, and should also consider whether lien resolution via waiver or compromise of the procurement cost reduced demand may be a suitable option to help the injured party retain more of the settlement proceeds.

 


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08/Jul/2020

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Once again, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has provided an indication that while regulations and/or guidance is on its way regarding the protection of Medicare’s future interests for liability and No Fault settlements, the proposed rule regarding these have been moved to August 1, 2020 or perhaps further into the future (again). Technically, the information indicates that the Notice of Proposed Rule Making would “clarify existing Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) obligations associated with future medical items services related to liability insurance (including self-insurance), no fault insurance, and worker’s compensation settlements, judgments, awards, or other payments. Specifically, this rule would clarify that an individual or Medicare beneficiary must satisfy Medicare’s interest with respect to future medical items and services related to such settlements, judgments, awards, or other payments. This proposed rule would also remove obsolete regulations.” The information is also indicating that regulations CMS determines to be obsolete will be removed. See the disclosure published in the Spring 2020 Federal Register Unified Agenda here.

Many in the MSP compliance industry believe that while the regulations and guidance could be focused on clarifying both the need to protect Medicare’s future interests and the way to protect those interests for each of the Non Group Health Plan (NGHP) primary plan types (Liability, Self-Insurance, No Fault, and Workers’ Compensation), it seems more likely that this particular group of regulations and/or guidance will focus primarily on liability and No Fault settlements. This is because both regulations and guidance have already been published specific to protecting Medicare’s future interests in Workers’ Compensation settlements in both the Code of Federal Regulations and via the Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement – WCMSA Reference Guide Version 3.1.

Medicare Set-Aside Report

Take Aways
  • Considering and protecting Medicare’s past interests has become the industry standard and quite honestly a “no brainer” for all NGHP settlement types – liability, self-insurance, No Fault, and Workers’ Compensation.
  • Whether the announced guidance comes this August or not, doesn’t it make sense to help ensure that Medicare’s future interests are protected in accordance with existing federal law, i.e. the MSP?
  • Helping to ensure that Medicare is not prematurely billed for injury related futures for any settlement type is the right thing to do and helps protect the Medicare Trust Funds.

Count on Medivest to help guide you through some of the complexities associated with MSP compliance.

 


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02/Jun/2020

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In March 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as an enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Department of HHS and its sub agency, CMS, against an attorney in Texas alleging failure of the attorney representing a party injured in a motor vehicle collision to properly reimburse Medicare for conditional payments.  The case is U.S. v. Carrigan & Anderson, Case 4:20-cv-00991, Filed 03/18/2020 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.

That would not really seem like big news as we have written about several conditional payment enforcement actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Department of Justice over the past few years against plaintiff attorneys for a failure to properly inquire with CMS’s Beneficiary Coordination & Recovery Center (BCRC) contractor and address amounts to be reimbursed to CMS.[1]

However, unlike some of the other cases, the plaintiff attorney in this case took proactive steps attempting to address Medicare’s past interests in the liability settlement.  Unfortunately, the steps taken were misguided.  Had the attorney requested a compromise or waiver and/or appealed the demand amount by CMS, he would have likely fared better.

Prior to settlement, the attorney properly provided notification of the claim to the BCRC triggering the search by the BCRC for claim related conditional payments.  The case settled for $70,000.00 and the plaintiff attorney provided notification of the settlement to the BCRC.  Presumably, the plaintiff and attorney had received a copy of an earlier Conditional Payment Letter.  Within a few weeks after the settlement notification was provided, the BCRC delivered a demand letter in the amount of $46,244.74, demanding payment within the standard 60 day time period  from the date of the demand and informing of the right to appeal its demand amount.

Let Medivest Handle Your Lien Resolution Matters

The attorney creatively filed a motion with a state court in Texas challenging the amount demanded by Medicare and provided notice of same to the BCRC.  He called the motion, Motion To Determine Portion of Plaintiff’s Settlement That Constitute Reimbursement of Medical Payments Made in and Regarding Settlement.  The court reviewed submitted evidence including an affidavit signed by plaintiff counsel suggesting the claim settled at 1/10th its full case value, and issued an order reducing the amount to be paid to Medicare by 90% to a figure of $4,700.00.  Plaintiff counsel submitted a copy of the order to the BCRC.  The full demand amount went unpaid and began accruing interest at nearly 10% APR on the 61st day post-demand (for current demands, the annual interest percentage rate is now over 10%).

As of March 18th, 2020, when the U.S. filed its recovery action in U.S. District Court, the alleged reimbursement amount had increased to $53,445.93 including interest. The U.S. requested recovery of its fees and costs but interestingly did not request double damages.

The U.S. Attorney’s position is that state courts lack authority to make determinations of federal law including amounts owned to Medicare under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 1395y(b)(2) (MSP).   Furthermore the complaint asserts that because there is an administrative procedure in place under the current MSP regulations, if the plaintiff and attorney disagreed with the demand amount, the administrative appeals process should have been followed, i.e. that there was a failure to exhaust administrative remedies, an express condition precedent to seek redress in U.S. District Court for appeal of Medicare Initial Determinations such as the amount of a demand or a denial of a waiver.

Take Aways

Dispute and Appeal
  • Review each conditional payment letter to verify each reimbursement claimed is injury related
  • Dispute all non-injury related claims in a timely manner before the matter settles or before CMS issues its final demand
  • If unhappy with a CMS reimbursement of conditional payment demand, consider appealing through CMS’s administrative appeals process
  • You have 120 days to request a first level appeal in writing

In the meantime, consider one of the other post demand dispute processes allowed that may offer your client relief from what you consider to be an unreasonable demand.  Depending on the outcome, the appeal may not be necessary.

Compromise Requests 
  • Requesting a compromise to the BCRC offering a sum certain to resolve the claim laying out arguments based in equity similar to the ones made to the state court judge in the case above and/or according to regulations governing compromises by the U.S. Government existing in the CFR
  • Compromise requests are forwarded by the BCRC to the applicable CMS Regional Office (RO) and a response is provided within 45 days of the BCRC’s receipt of the request
  • Responses will either be accepted, countered, or rejected
Waivers
  • If not happy with the response to the compromise request and if the financial condition of the plaintiff is such that they have a hard time meeting their day to day living expenses, a waiver request could be an alternative option
  • Waiver requests entail filling out a detailed Social Security Administration financial form called the SSA 632-BK
  • To make its decision, CMS will evaluate resources of the plaintiff, income, the amount of the settlement, outgoing expenses, and hardship factors and may take up to 120 days from start to finish so you need to be mindful of the appeal deadline for the original demand.

 

[1] January 2020 DOJ US Attorney https://www.medivest.com/philadelphia-based-personal-injury-law-firm-agrees-to-resolve-allegations-of-unpaid-medicare-debts/ Philadelphia plaintiff firm settles for $6,604.59,

Nov 2019  US Attorney General – Baltimore plaintiff firm settles with Medicare for $91,406.98

March 2019 DOJ US Attorney  – Maryland plaintiff firm settles with Medicare for $250k

June 2018 DOJ US Attorney – Philadelphia plaintiff firm settles with Medicare for $28k

 


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17/Apr/2020

On March 20th, we discussed what actions Washington State’s Workers’ Compensation Agency was taking that would allow medical providers and injured workers to file claims for work related/industrial exposure to COVID-19. Since then, other states have also taken action and created new policies in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kentucky

Last month, Kentucky was one of the States that adopted policy to provide workers compensation benefits to healthcare workers and first responders exposed to COVID-19. On April 9th, 2020 Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky extended the provision of those benefits to additional types of employees. In his executive order, Gov. Beshear ordered that an employee could receive temporary total disability (TTD) payments for the period of time that the employee was quarantined if that employee met certain criteria.

The burden of proof lies with the employee to show that the COVID-19 exposure was caused by the work conditions. The employee’s removal to quarantine has to be ordered by a physician.  If the employee can show the connection and removal by a physician, TTD payments can now be received for the quarantine period even if the employer denies liability.

The expanded list of those now eligible for TTD payments include healthcare workers, first responders, corrections officers, members of the military, activated National Guard, domestic violence shelter workers, child advocacy workers, rape crisis center staff, Department for Community based Services workers, grocery workers, postal service workers, and child care workers permitted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide child care in a limited duration center during the State of Emergency.

Florida

Florida followed Washington and Kentucky, and as of the end of March, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis ordered the state’s Division of Risk Management (DRM) to review workers’ compensation claims submitted by state workers “required to interact with potentially infected individuals.” Those workers includes those employees known in Florida as “Frontline Workers“: law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, correctional officers, health-care workers, child safety investigators and Florida National Guardsmen.

The Florida League of Cities also announced in March that the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust would cover municipal first responders’ COVID-19 claims.

Illinois

This week, Illinois has taken a progressive step with the introduction of an emergency amendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s rules of evidence under Part 9030 titled Arbitration, establishing a rebuttable presumption of a causal connection between employment and contraction of COVID-19 for both First Responders and Frontline Workers who contract COVID-19 as a result of their employment.

This is different than any other state in terms of the burden of proof.  In most states, the burden is on the injured or ill worker to prove the causal connection.  In Illinois, at this time, the burden will be on the employer to rebut this presumption that the causation exists.

In Illinois and other states, attorneys representing injured workers should evaluate whether there may be new expanded coverage in their state for their clients who contract COVID-19 as a result of employment related activities. They should consider whether such coverage may exist under the respective state’s Workers’ Compensation statutes or any other state law that may apply.

Some states, like Illinois, also have an Occupational Diseases Act which could be applicable, and if so, would pay benefits based on rates established under the applicable version of Illinois’ Worker’s Compensation Act.

Changes in Workers’ Compensation and Liability Cases

COVID-19 has driven changes that affected both the Workers’ Compensation and Liability industries outside of state and local government regulation. For additional information how the Workers’ Compensation industry has been affected please click here, and to find out how the Liability industry has been affected follow this link.

We hope each of you stays safe at this time.  Medivest is fully functional during this period and ready to assist parties with MSP compliance and lien resolution services. For assistance in these matters please call us at 1.877.725.2467 or contact us here.

 


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21/Mar/2020

The state regulated Workers’ Compensation agency for Washington State has already set up online methods for medical providers and injured workers to file work related/industrial exposure claims for COVID-19/Coronavirus, and even added a hotline for injured workers to call to be able to report likely exposure to COVID-19/Coronavirus. Because COVID-19/Coronavirus is so new and so contagious, it is hard to predict how likely it will be that claims of work related exposure will be accepted by Workers’ Compensation carriers or Boards that hear appeals of denials of exposure claims.   Some factors the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries listed that should be considered before filing a claim are:

  • Was there an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to the worker’s occupation (such as a first responder or health care worker)?
  • If not for their job, would the worker have been exposed to the virus or contracted the condition?
  • Can the worker identify a specific source or event during the performance of his or her employment that resulted in exposure to the new coronavirus (examples include a first responder or health care worker who has actually treated a patient with the virus)?

The Washington State online message suggests that “if the above criteria are not met, it is not necessary to file a Workers’ Compensation (WC) claim; however, a claim may still be filed if requested by the worker or if the provider is uncertain if the case meets the criteria.”  The site goes on to explain that instances where contraction of COVID-19 is only incidental to the workplace or common to all employment, giving an example of an office worker contracting the condition from a fellow employee, a claim for WC exposure to and contraction of COVID-19 would be denied.

Because WC is governed by state law, while the factors considered will likely be similar, the decision making resulting from the evaluation could vary state by state.

We hope the curve of exposure associated with this pandemic will flatten soon and we can get back to our ordinary lives, but in the meantime, we send positive thoughts and healthy wishes to all of our first responders, healthcare workers, service industry employees, and everyone else affected by this fast spreading virus!

For further questions regarding Workers’ Compensation settlements please contact Medivest for a consultation.


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30/Jan/2020

A state appellate court in Colorado just held that hospitals in Colorado may forego billing Medicare or Medicaid even when an injured party is a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary, and may proceed against the injured party as long as the hospital follows certain procedures. See Harvey v. Centura Health Corporation and Catholic Health Initiatives, — P.3d —- (2020) Court of Appeals No. 19CA0091 January 30, 2020*.

Those procedures are that the hospital must first submit charges to the “property and casualty insurer and primary medical payer of benefits available” to the injured person when that person is injured as a result of negligence or wrongful acts of another person, before filing a lien. The state appellate court clarified that neither Medicare nor Medicare are primary payers of medical benefits and because of this, held that Hospitals in Colorado do not need to bill Medicare and/or Medicaid before filing a lien.

Therefore, Colorado hospitals interested in collecting larger amounts of money than Medicare and/or Medicaid will pay will likely forego billing Medicare and/or Medicaid, and will put the at fault party on notice of its charges, will bill the liability carrier for the at fault party, and then proceed to file a lien against the injured party likely to receive a third party liability settlement.

Of course the charges must be related to the underlying third party liability injury and must be reasonable and necessary. So even if a Colorado hospital lien is perfected, the injured party has a right to dispute whether the charges are injury-related and to contest the reasonableness or necessity of the charges.

Call Medivest when your injured client is facing a hospital lien to allow our specialists to first determine if all of the requested charges are related to the underlying injury, and to negotiate with the lien holder or its recovery agent regarding the amount of reasonable and necessary charges. Don’t let your client pay unreasonable or unnecessary hospital bills even when a lien is filed!

*While this case has not been released for publication in permanent law reports and could be subject to a petition for rehearing in the Court of Appeals or for Certiori in the Supreme Court of Colorado, it is important to be aware of hospital practices in this regard.

 


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