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CLASSIC LIST

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On October 13, 2022, in a surprise move, CMS withdrew its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) pertaining to the protection of Medicare’s future interests in liability and other Non Group Health Plan (“NGHP”) settlements, judgments, awards, payments, or other arrangements (“Settlements”) without any official or unofficial comment.  Many people in the Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance industry felt that this NPRM, most recently announced in 2018 and continued for several years, was finally going to add CMS’s clarifying “take” on how it would suggest settling parties reasonably consider and protect Medicare’s future interests in liability Settlements and that CMS would issue regulations or guidance specific to Liability Medicare Set-Asides (“LMSAs”).

 

The most recent 2018 iteration of the NPRM was designed to address protection of Medicare’s future interests in any NGHP Settlement, including removing what it considered obsolete regulations.  For the past several years, stakeholders in the MSP compliance community have been waiting and speculating how such regulations could be devised to account for all the convoluted factors that exist in liability claims while adding clarity to steps CMS might suggest to be taken to protect Medicare’s interests in liability settlements.

 

Earlier in 2022, there had been a stakeholder meeting as well as a letter from the MARC coalition urging CMS to not move forward with the NPRM.  It seems that the MSP compliance stakeholder community once again rallied and provided enough reason to give CMS pause.  Some have called into question whether the MSP as enacted, gives CMS authority to issue regulations regarding liability futures, and some court decisions discussing liability MSAs and the need for an exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to a court of competent jurisdiction being able to review a LMSA proposal, may have also contributed to CMS’s decision to not move forward with this NPRM at this time.

 

The argument follows if federal courts have determined it is premature to review proposed LMSAs due to the failure of a party to exhaust their administrative remedies with CMS, then how could CMS insert its own administrative review process via guidance or regulation, unless the MSP were amended to provide for that authority.  Examples of court cases discussing these issues, include Silva v. Burwell, 2017 WL 5891753 (D. N.M. 2017); Sipler v. Trans Am Trucking, Inc., 881 F.Supp. 2d 635 (D. N.J. 2012); Bruton v. Carnival Corporation, 2012 WL 1627729 (S.D. Fla. 2012); Abate v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., 2020 WL 7027481 (W.D. Pa. November 30, 2020); and Stillwell v. State Farm, et. al., 2021 WL 4427081 (M.D. Fla., September 27, 2021).

 

TAKE AWAYS:

  • The MSP still forbids Medicare from making payment when a primary plan is in place meaning if there is a Settlement from a NGHP plan including from a liability carrier or self-insured defendant, Medicare has a statutory lien right under the MSP to recover its conditional payments minus procurement costs and can charge high interest and potentially even double damages for non-compliance.
  • If a current Medicare beneficiary settles a liability case, they should be informed about the MSP and a plan for future care should be set in place.  The federal law is clear that conditional payments could arise prior to or after a settlement, so a risk tolerance cost benefit analysis should be performed between attorney and plaintiff as to the best steps to ensure Medicare is not prematurely billed.
  • Medicare has the right under the MSP to deny payment for injury related future Medicare covered medicals (items, services, and expenses, including Prescription Drug Expenses).  Will it?  We have seen times when it has flagged liability cases even while a liability claim or portion of a liability claim is pending (often because it believes the matter was settled but it was only settled with one of several defendants/carriers).  While CMS does not seem to regularly do this, the goal for an attorney representing an injured plaintiff is to provide a settling plaintiff with enough information to make an informed decision regarding what is the best course of action for them and to document what decision was made after such informed consent was provided.
  • Only two federal circuits (3rd and 11th) have held Medicare Part C – Medicare Advantage Plans (MAPs) to have identical recovery rights as traditional Medicare under the MSP.  However, those MAPs still have contractual subrogation rights, and attorneys representing Defendants, as well as attorneys representing their plaintiff clients, should evaluate whether any MAP plan or Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) have a subrogation/lien interest to be reimbursed for pre-settlement payments that were compensated by the Settlement.
  • Each attorney should provide their clients with enough information to help them assess their risks and to determine if denial of injury related future medicals or the potential for recovery of future conditional payments by Medicare is a risk they are willing to take.  There are a wide range of products being offered to address MSP exposure and to protect Medicare’s interests in liability settlements based on the varying risk tolerance levels of your client.  Count on Medivest to help you spot these intricacies so you can deliver prudent advice to your clients.

 

As background, the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute, found at 42 U.S.C. Section 1395y(b)(2), or most commonly known as the MSP, is the federal law enacted in 1980 that amended the Social Security Act and its Medicare specific amendments to make health plans other than Workers’ Compensation to be primary to Medicare.  Workers’ Compensation plans were primary to Medicare from Medicare’s enactment into law in 1965.  The MSP was Congress’ mandate to Medicare and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), the subagency that administers Medicare, forbidding Medicare from making payments when a primary plan was in place to promptly make payment.  The primary plans are liability including self-insureds (and automobility BI), No Fault, and Worker’s Compensation and are known as the Non Group Health Plans (NGHP) to be distinguished from Group Health plans that offer health care insurance.  While No Fault claims and Workers’ Compensation claims are typically paid immediately upon a claim being filed and accepted for Ongoing Responsibility for Medicals (“ORM”), liability carriers rarely accept responsibility to make payments early on in the life of a liability case.  Liability carriers may choose to offer a settlement but almost never accepts liability.

 

Because the regulations under the MSP define prompt payment as within 120 days, the MSP also allows Medicare to make payments for medical services when a Medicare beneficiary will be compensated by a defendant in a liability case or their/its primary plan carrier under the condition that Medicare be able to recover those conditional payments it made that were claim related and compensated by a settlement, judgment, award, or other arrangement (collectively, “Settlement”).  The MSP makes the primary plan Defendant, and any person or entity who receives a part of the Settlement proceeds, jointly and severally liable for repayment of conditional payments.  The law also allows for interest and potentially double damages against liable people and entities that fail to make payment promptly.

 

The payment by any NGHP plan is what triggers the MSP’s recovery rights under the law regardless of whether liability is accepted or not.  The protection of exposure to the MSP’s recovery rights is also commonly referred to as protecting Medicare’s past and future interests in a Settlement.  Protecting Medicare’s past interests in a settlement includes providing notification of a claim and checking with CMS to determine whether it is claiming any payments it has made from the date of an injury up to the date of settlement are conditional payments to be reimbursed.  Plaintiff attorneys typically provide this type of notification or hire third parties to confirm whether there are any conditional payments and then report settlement details to obtain a discount from the conditional payment amount and obtain a demand from CMS reflecting a deduction for pro-rated fees and expenses allowed under the regulations to the MSP.

 

The regulations to the MSP include some regulations that are generally applicable to any of the NGHP plans and some that are specific to Workers’ Compensation claims and Settlements.  CMS has never promulgated regulations that are specific to liability claims or No Fault claims and Settlements.  CMS has also issued guidance regarding the protection of Medicare’s future interests in Workers’ Compensation claims and Settlements via its Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (“WCMSA”) Reference Guide, now in version 3.7 issued June 6, 2022.

 

In 2012, CMS issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the protection of Medicare’s future interests in settlements intended to extend from the already regulated area of Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) Settlements to the other NGHP areas and even solicited comments from the MSP stakeholder community.  After many entities pointed out the extreme differences between liability claims and WC claims such as issues of comparative or contributory negligence, the fact that liability claims often contain awards for Pain and Suffering, Loss of Enjoyment of Life, Loss of Consortium for married plaintiffs, etc., CMS ultimately withdrew that NPRM in 2014.

 


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15/Aug/2022

Consider this scenario: you are a personal injury attorney, and you get a call from a new client who is 63 years old and is interested in settling her automobile accident case.  Per the Medicare Secondary Payer statute and as part of the case workup, you need to make sure you are not shifting the burden to Medicare.

What is the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute?

The MSP statute was passed by Congress in 1980 in order to protect the financial integrity of the Medicare Trust Fund. Per this statute/law, Medicare is a secondary payer for workers’ compensation, no-fault insurance, liability insurance, self-insured plans, and employer group health plan insurance. According to the MSP regulations, these other sources of health care coverage are to be the primary payer, with Medicare being the secondary form of payment.

What is a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) Proposal?

A MSA proposal is a detailed report indicating the anticipated Medicare allowable, Injury-related expenses for the remainder of the injured individual’s life expectancy.  It is a calculation that determines a dollar amount that should be “set aside”  as part of the settlement process to satisfy the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute (MSP) and to avoid shifting the burden to Medicare.

Guidance from Medicare for Liability Cases

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the WCMSA Reference Guide to help attorneys understand the process CMS uses for approving proposed Workers’ Compensation MSA (WCMSA) arrangements. The purpose of the WCMSA Reference Guide was to consolidate and supplant all the historical CMS memos into a single point of reference.
However, Workers’ Compensation and Liability settlements have several different nuances.  CMS has yet to release the long-awaited LMSA Reference Guide for liability settlements, despite announcing its intention to do so in 2018. Given the current lack of guidance concerning Liability MSAs from CMS, attorneys should look to the WCMSA Reference Guide for guidance when settling their liability cases.

Litmus Test –  Is a MSA Proposal Recommended?

In order to determine if a MSA allocation is recommended to cover Medicare’s interest in your settlement, there are several key items to review. Attorneys can do a quick MSA litmus test to determine whether or not a MSA is recommended.
  • Your client is currently Medicare-eligible
  • Your client is 62.5 years old and within 30 months of becoming eligible for Medicare benefits
  • Your client has either applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or has an open or pending application Will there be any money after medical liens have been resolved to fund a Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) account?

Medicare Eligibility

What is Medicare’s criteria for an individual to become Medicare eligible? Medicare is available for people aged 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant).

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

An individual who has either applied or has reapplied for Social Security Disability Insurance can become Medicare eligible. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that helps those who have become disabled from work.  An individual can apply for SSDI when:
  • A person is unable to engage in any “substantial gainful activity” due to an illness or disability and;
  • When a person is not able to return to work for 12 months or more and;
  • When a person has accumulated enough work credits in the last 10 years to qualify.

30 Months to Become Medicare Eligible

The reason why it takes 30 months to become Medicare eligible after the individual has either applied or reapplied for SSDI is that:
  • The individual needs to wait one month after the date of injury to apply for SSDI.
  • After the SSDI applicate date, there is a waiting period of 5 months to receive SSDI entitlement.
  • From the date of SSDI entitlement, Medicare has 24 months waiting period to become Medicare eligible.

Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) – Not Required by Law

Did you know that a Medicare Set-Aside is not required by law? You should know the risks if you choose not to have a MSA prepared, by understanding CMS’ interpretation regarding MSP compliance. In the event there was a failure to address Medicare’s interest in the settlement, Medicare may refuse to pay future medical expenses that are injury-related until the entire settlement is exhausted.

Best Practices

Our highly trained Medicare Expert Case Advisors can help you figure out if Medicare may have an interest in your settlement. We assist all settling parties to navigate the MSP complexities and provide you with cost-saving strategies for your settlement.
To receive our complimentary MSA Decision Tree, “When Is a MSA Allocation Recommended?”  click here.

 


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On Jan 11th, 2022 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its WCMSA Reference Guide to include information related to non-submit MSA products and how it views them in terms of exposure for Medicare. Then on March 15, 2022, CMS updated its Reference Guide again.  We blogged about each updated guide here: WCMSA Reference Guide Version 3.6 Updates of Significance.
In the Workers’ Compensation arena, there are a number of MSA products that do not adhere to standard CMS methodology for preparing a Medicare Set-Aside allocation as outlined in the WCMSA Reference Guide. Since these products do not follow CMS methodology, submitting these types of products for approval will typically result in CMS countering higher to an amount aligned with CMS methodology standards. If a non-submit MSA product is used in WC settlements, CMS has indicated it will not step in and become the primary payer once the MSA funds have been exhausted unless the beneficiary can prove the MSA was properly funded and that all of the MSA funds were used in accordance with CMS guidelines. If CMS determines that the MSA was underfunded, it has indicated it will or at least may deny payment for case related, Medicare covered items, services, and expenses, up to the Medicare beneficiary’s net settlement amount.
The recent WCMSA reference guide updates demonstrate that Medicare believes some non-submit WCMSA allocation reports are potentially shifting the burden of payment for future medical items, treatment, and prescriptions to Medicare.  While non-submit WCMSAs that meet workload review thresholds are not automatically deemed to not protect Medicare’s interest, it seems that CMS has created a presumption of this unless the injured worker can show otherwise.  In comes solid allocation methodology and perhaps more importantly, the professional administrator, offering tools and assistance to show that both the amount was reasonable and that the money set aside was properly exhausted.
Why is this important for liability settlements? In the liability arena, CMS has yet to issue any new guidelines with respect on to how to handle liability settlements for a Medicare beneficiary.  The May 25, 2011, Stalcup Memo from a CMS Regional Office in Texas indicated that there should be no difference between how Medicare’s interests would be protected between liability and Workers’ Compensation.  It indicated that “The law requires that the Medicare Trust Funds be protected from payment of future services whether it is a Workers’ Compensation or liability case.  There is no distinction in the law.”  The Stalcup Memo announced that “CMS does expect the funds to be exhausted on otherwise Medicare covered and otherwise reimbursable services related to what was claimed and/or released before Medicare is ever billed.”  It further cautions that “each attorney is going to have to decide, based on the specific facts of each of their cases, whether or not there is funding for future medicals and if so, a need to protect the Trust Funds.”
The new WCMSA Reference Guide has indicated that unless a prior memo is specifically referenced in the Reference Guide, it should not be relied upon.  However, the Federal Statute, The Medicare Secondary Payer Statute, 42 U.S.C. Section 1395y(b) has itself not ever made a distinction between liability and Workers’ Compensation settlements and prohibits Medicare from making payment for any injuries compensated by a primary plan a/k/a Non Group Health Plan payment (including payments, settlements, judgments, awards, or other arrangements).  Even though CMS has not promulgated specific regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for liability settlements and has not yet issued specific guidelines for liability settlements, liability is one of the primary plans outlined in the MSP statute that are considered primary to Medicare (Liability Insurance Including Self-Insureds (with the sub-set Automobile specifically mentioned in the CFR, No Fault, and Workers’ Compensation). In the Hinsinger v. Showboat Atlantic City, 420 N.J. Super. 15, 18 A.3d 229 (2011) case, the Superior Court of New Jersey found. . .
              “. . . no reason to apply a different standard to set asides created with money obtained from third-party liability claims than it applies to set asides created with money obtained from workers’ compensation claims. The statutory and policy reasons for creating both of them are the same:  to protect the government, and the Medicare system in particular, from paying medical bills for which the beneficiary has already received money from another source.”
The court reasoned that in the absence of specific liability regulations concerning the MSP, it was appropriate to analyze the regulations geared toward WC.  This would seem like a reasonable starting point for CMS as it relates to futures.  Of course, liability cases have different types of damages that can be awarded, most notably non-economic damages that are not awardable in WC cases.  Causation issues and percentages of liability can limit the recovery for plaintiffs in liability cases with specific percentages being parsed out/negotiated in states with pure comparative negligence.  Lastly, plaintiffs in liability can often argue that they were not Made Whole when the injuries and damages are present but the at fault party’s funding is limited by low policy limits.
These factors have not yet been addressed in any regulations or current guidance by CMS.  However, when a WC settlement may not be reviewed by CMS because it is outside CMS workload review thresholds, CMS takes the position that parties must still consider Medicare’s interests in the settlement.  Currently, liability settlements are still not being reviewed by CMS even though CMS had included reviews of liability MSA’s in a prior Request for Proposal when searching for its last WCRC MSA review contractor.  Therefore, it makes sense that for liability settlements, parties should still be considering Medicare’s interests and especially so, when the settlement involves a Medicare beneficiary or one with a reasonable expectation of becoming a beneficiary within 30 months of the settlement.  The WCMSA Reference Guide could contain part of the puzzle in helping an injured party being compensated for future medicals in planning their future care.
As of May 25, 2022, CMS has neither issued regulations nor new guidelines with respect to protecting Medicare’s interests when liability settlements compensate for future medicals covered by Medicare.  CMS needs to provide such a roadmap if it is serious about protecting the Medicare Trust Funds for future generations.  Because the MSP law itself sets the standard for the protection of Medicare, and the law and its regulations enable Medicare’s ability to deny payments and/or make conditional payment recovery, does it really make sense to ignore planning the injury related future care of your client even when the regulatory agency has been slow to act?
Each attorney should provide their clients with enough information to help them assess their risks and to determine if denial of injury related future medicals or the potential for recovery of future conditional payments by Medicare is a risk they are willing to take.  There are a wide range of products being offered to address MSP exposure and to protect Medicare’s interests in liability settlements based on the varying risk tolerance levels of your client.  Count on Medivest to help you spot these intricacies so you can deliver prudent advice to your clients.

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23/Feb/2022

On November 16, 2021, the State of California’s Medicaid Agency, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS or Medi-Cal), issued an All County Welfare Directors Letter (ACWDL or Letter) number 21-26 as a memo to all counties and people who administer various state based benefits, including all Medi-Cal Program Specialists/Liaisons.
The Letter provides clarification on Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) funds, as defined by CMS in the Workers’ Compensation realm. The primary message is that “MSAs, also called Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement Accounts (WCMSA), are not countable as income and property on the basis of their unavailability when determining an individual’s eligibility for Medi-Cal.”
This can be significant for several reasons outlined in the Takeaways section.  Traditionally, an injured party that was otherwise eligible for need based benefits would be advised by their attorney to have a 1st Party Special Needs Trust of some type (individual or Pooled Trust – together referred to here as an SNT) established to help assure the eligibility of those benefits at that time or in the future.  However, there may be times when the cost of establishing such an SNT might be cost prohibitive compared to the value of the benefits to be protected.

Summary

The Letter describes that because the funds in the MSA account are to be used for their intended purpose, covering the costs of future medical needs [that are injury related and Medicare covered], they should be considered unavailable income and not countable when determining an individual’s eligibility for Non-Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) programs. However, the Letter indicates that it is important to note that interest or dividends generated by the interest-bearing account should be considered available income for MAGI eligibility determination.
The Letter explains that MSAs had previously been determined to not be countable as property pursuant to a previous All County Welfare Directors letter numbered 90-01 from 1990.  “MSA funds are considered unavailable property under ACWDL 90-01 (January 5, 1990), Section 50402 of that letter.”
The Letter also provides guidance to California counties on MSAs regarding:
    • MAGI eligibility
    • Non-MAGI eligibility concerning:
      • Property
      • Income
    • Tasks that are County responsibilities
    • Tasks that are NOT County responsibilities
The full ACWDL 21-26 Letter with additional details and information is available here.

Takeaways

  • This Letter does not discuss settlements that exceed the WCMSA amount. Settlements that exceed the WCMSA amount meaning they exceed the injury related Medicare covered medical items, services, and expenses reasonably expected for the injured party and that are paid outside the WCMSA, might disqualify the injured party from Medi-Cal benefits.
  • The Letter also does not discuss that the injured party’s need based benefits may be jeopardized if the injured party moves to another state without taking steps to address the eligibility of the new state’s Medicaid benefits via the use of an SNT within the required time frame to afford such protection.
  • The information in this Letter may come in handy for certain cases where the cost of a SNT is a prohibitive factor that would affect whether a smaller Workers’ Compensation settlement could proceed.
  • The letter does not make it clear how Medi-Cal would view a liability MSA (LMSA), i.e., an MSA allocation report and arrangement for administration pursuant to the settlement of a liability case.
  • As always, you should consult with an attorney licensed in the state where the settlement occurs (as well as disclose to the injured party to consult with an attorney specializing in the protection of need based benefits for the state where the settlement occurs and in any state they plan to move to ahead of their move) to confirm their rights, their entitlement to any specific benefits, and so that they understand that state need based benefit eligibility varies and other states’ laws likely do not afford this same protection.
Count on Medivest to help guide you through some of the complexities associated with Workers’ Compensation and liability settlements that involve some evaluation of Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) compliance, when you are not sure whether a Medicare Set-Aside arrangement should be utilized, or when need based benefits are in the picture or may be in the injured party’s future.

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05/Apr/2021

NPRM: Miscellaneous Medicare Secondary Payer Clarifications and Updates (CMS-6047)

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Office of Management and Budget (OIRA/OMB) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) dated 03/00/2021 found here.

Essentially the proposed rule would clarify existing Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) obligations associated with payment for future injury related and Medicare allowable medical items, services, and expenses, including prescription drug expenses (Future Medicare Allowable Medicals) related to settlements, judgments, awards, payments, or other arrangements (Settlements) paid by primary plans such as liability insurance plans (including self-insureds), No Fault plans, or Workers’ Compensation plans.  Specifically, this rule would clarify that an individual Medicare beneficiary is responsible to satisfy Medicare’s interests with respect to Future Medicare Allowable Medicals related to such Settlements, in addition to the already well known and regulated obligation for Medicare beneficiaries and their attorneys to satisfy Medicare’s past interest in such Settlements by verifying the existence of and resolving any conditional payments (i.e. “Medicare liens”) stemming from Settlements.

This proposed rule would also remove obsolete regulations.  While it is projected to focus on the protection of Medicare’s interests in the previously unregulated liability and No Fault Settlement market, the new NPRM could provide additional clarification regarding protecting Medicare’s future interests in Workers’ Compensation Settlements as well

Is this NPRM update laying the groundwork to issue the long awaited LMSA Regulations/Guidance?  Only time will tell.  Medivest will continue to monitor the OIRA/OMB website for any NPRM updates to keep you informed.  You can be assured that Medivest is here to help guide you through some of the complexities associated with MSP compliance.

 

OIRA/OMB has issued similar proposed release date Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for CMS regarding this RIN 0938-AT85 as follows:

 

 

To stay up to date regarding any changes with LMSA Regulations/Guidance, please visit Medivest’s blogs:

 

Take Aways

  • Considering and protecting Medicare’s past interests has become the industry standard and 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, it makes 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.

 


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21/Dec/2020

As we enter the final weeks of 2020, Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) stakeholders will have to continue to wait for Liability Medicare Set-Aside (LMSA) Regulation/Guidance to be released. The last time the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mentioned the LMSA Regulation/Guidance it was scheduled to be released in August 2020. Professionals in the MSP industry have speculated that new regulations or guidelines are not likely to be published until March 2021, however as of December 17, 2020 no announcement date has been set. CMS first announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to be issued in September of 2019 but has delayed the announcement multiple times over the past two years.  The NPRM would “clarify existing Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) obligations associated with future medical items and services related to liability (including self-insurance), no fault insurance, and workers’ compensation settlements, judgements, awards or other payments. Specifically, this rule would clarify that an individual or a Medicare Beneficiary must satisfy Medicare’s interest with respect to future medical items and services related to such settlements, judgements, awards, or other payments. This proposed rule would also remove obsolete regulations.”

 

Injured individuals, their attorneys, and entities settling liability claims, including consultants that assist in the settlement process such as structured settlement and MSP compliance planners/consultants (Settlement Professionals) interested in complying with the MSP and ensuring that Medicare will not make payments for injury related and Medicare covered medicals post settlement, have regularly read and interpreted the CMS Stalcup Handout dated 05/25/2011, characterizing the obligation of considering and protecting Medicare’s interests in liability and Workers’ Compensation settlements as being one and the same (see below).  Furthermore, in the absence of specific regulations or guidance directed toward liability settlements, Settlement Professionals have also read and interpreted the guidance issued by CMS in its Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) Reference Guide v 3.2.

 

The WCMSA Reference Guide of course only gives examples of situations where Workers’ Compensation settlements fall outside the workload review thresholds allowing for review by CMS but in the two examples it provides in Section 8.1 titled Review Thresholds, it indicates that “not establishing some plan for future care places settling parties at risk for recovery from care related to the WC injury up to the full value of the Settlement.”  In the same section of the Reference Guide, CMS indicates in another example, “The settling parties must consider CMS’ future interests even though the case would not be eligible for review.” Because of the double damages provision allowed for recovery actions under the MSP, and regardless of what CMS’ enforcement position has been in the past, insurance carriers, Self-Insureds, and attorneys representing injured plaintiffs have taken precautions to reduce the likelihood of any recovery against them for future conditional payments.  Many have surmised that this is only a plaintiff issue and have argued insurance companies and Self-Insured need not worry about Medicare covered futures.  Nobody knows exactly where the future guidance in this area is going to fall but it is clear that Medicare’s Trust Funds need protecting because as recently as 2018, Congress predicted Medicare’s Part A Trust Fund to be depleted in 2026.*

 

Highlights from the CMS Stalcup Handout 05/25/2011

…“Medicare’s interests must be protected; however, CMS does not mandate a specific mechanism to protect those interests.  The law does not require a ‘set-aside’ in any situation.  The law requires that the Medicare Trust Funds be protected from payment for future services whether it is a Workers’ Compensation or Liability case.  There is no distinction in the law.”

…here is no formal CMS review process in the liability arena as there is for Workers’ Compensation.  However, CMS does expect the funds to be exhausted on otherwise Medicare covered and otherwise reimbursable services related to what was claimed and/or released before Medicare is ever billed.  CMS review is decided on a case by case basis.

…“Each attorney is going to decide, based on the specific facts of each of their cases, whether or not there is funding for future medicals and if so, a need to protect the Trust Funds.”

Click here to download entire memo

 

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the following Notices of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) regarding RIN 0938-AT85:

 

To stay up to date regarding any changes with LMSA Regulations/Guidance, please visit Medivest’s blogs::

 

Take Aways:

  • Considering Medicare’s interests in any settlement with some type of analysis regarding the protection of those interests has become the industry standard  for all NGHP settlement types – liability, self-insurance, No Fault, and Workers’ Compensation.
  • Whether the announced guidance comes out soon or not, doesn’t it make sense to help ensure that Medicare’s future interests are considered and protected in accordance with existing federal law – i.e. the MSP?
  • Helping to ensure that Medicare is not prematurely billed for injury related future Medicare covered medicals for any settlement type is the right thing to do and helps protect the Medicare Trust Funds.

 

Medivest will continue to monitor the OMB website for any NPRM updates in order to keep you informed.  Count on Medivest to help guide you through some of the complexities associated with MSP compliance.

* Medicare has two Trust Funds. One for Part A that covers hospital insurance for the aged and disabled and one for both Part B that mainly covers doctors’ visits and Part D that covers prescription medications, for the same population of Medicare enrollees. It was announced in June 2018 that the Part A Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is projected to be depleted in 2026, three years earlier than predicted just a year ago. The Part B and D Trust Fund is not as bad off due to a financing system with yearly resets for premium and general revenue income and is projected to have adequate funding for the next ten years and beyond.

Total Medicare expenditures were reported to be $710 billion in 2017. Medicare expenditures were projected to increase at a faster pace than either aggregate workers’ earnings or the economy, and to increase from approximately 3.7 percent in 2017 to between 6.2 percent and 8.9 percent as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2029, causing substantial strain on our nation’s workers, the economy, Medicare beneficiaries, and the Federal budget.

A 2018 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the two Medicare Trust Funds recommended a legislative response [2] to help protect the Part A Trust Fund. However, instead of waiting years for Congress to act, if parties to third party or workers’ compensation settlements involving Medicare beneficiaries [3], proactively address both past and future interests of Medicare, that could help slow Medicare Trust Fund depletion, in line with the above-described intent of the MSP.

 


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08/Jul/2020

Click here for a downloadable copy of this blog

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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