On Thursday, February 17 at 1 pm EST, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host a webinar regarding Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA). The full notice can be read below:
CMS will be hosting a webinar to discuss a variety of WCMSA topics, including a summary of what’s new in Medicare set-asides, and addressing questions related to the inclusion of treatments, application of state rules, re-reviews/amended reviews and more. The webinar format will be opening remarks and a presentation by CMS followed by a live question and answer session with representatives from CMS.
Date: Thursday, February 17, 2022
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Conference Dial-In: 800-779-1251
Conference Passcode: 6930242
Please note that for this webinar you will need to access the webinar link and dial in using the information above to access the visual and audio portion of the presentation. Due to the number of participants please dial in at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the presentation.
Additional information about recent updates from CMS about WCMSAs can be found here. If you have questions on how topics discussed in this webinar may affect your clients, please contact Medivest here or call us at 877.725.2467.
1. Section 4.3 of the new WCMSA Reference Guide does not constitute new policy at CMS or new risk for settlement stakeholders. The WCMSA Reference Guide has for a long time maintained the same position on and response to submission and non-submission of MSAs that meet the submission threshold. It is, however, the first time CMS has specifically referenced MSA products branded as “evidence-based” or “non-submit” and given an opinion on those products.
2. CMS is communicating its concern that MSAs specifically designed to forego the submission/approval process may inadequately consider Medicare’s interest. While it is reasonable for CMS to maintain such a concern, the assumption that any MSA not approved by CMS is inadequate is problematic and contradictory to their position on MSAs that do not meet review thresholds. And submission/approval for MSAs that do meet review thresholds is still voluntary.
3. The party with the most to lose is the beneficiary. The primary consequence referenced in 4.3 is denial of payment for the beneficiary’s injury-related care in the event of MSA exhaustion. CMS says it will continue to deny payment until the entire net settlement has been fully spent down (not the total MSA amount). This could occur in events of permanent exhaustion or during temporary exhaustion periods when the beneficiary’s MSA is exhausted until the next funding payment is received. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to MSAs that do not meet the review threshold. Also, there is an appeal process for denial of payment. But the greatest risk-bearer is the applicant.
4. Since MSA exhaustion represents the greatest risk to the applicant, a program of proper funds administration is preferable. A burden shift to Medicare can only occur once Medicare becomes the primary payer. A MSA that remains solvent will maintain Medicare’s payment position as secondary indefinitely. While it is impossible to foresee every expense that a MSA may incur over an applicant’s lifetime, a properly funded MSA in the hands of a competent administrator is the best protection of the interests of both Medicare and the applicant.
5. Thoughtful consideration should be given to the adequacy of an evidence-based or non-submit program. It is entirely possible to produce a fully adequate and reasonable MSA without CMS’s review and approval. However, not all products are created equally. It’s important to be confident that the methodology in use produces MSAs that consider Medicare’s interests sufficiently.
6. The best indemnification is a reasonable MSA properly administered. CMS mentions indemnification in their 4.3 language. Many MSA vendors pair specific indemnification language with their non-submit products. The purpose of the indemnification language is to provide stakeholders with a layer of protection for bypassing CMS approval. Those stakeholders will want to pay special attention to any loopholes that condition any protection on the behavior of the beneficiary. Thoughtfully consider indemnification language before going the non-submit route. And as mentioned in #4 above, much of the risk produced by not submitting MSAs to CMS is mitigated by properly written MSAs administered by a competent professional.
Section 4.3 of the latest WCMSA Reference Guide does not produce anything particularly new. Still, it’s important to cover all the bases. For maximum avoidance of risk, submit MSAs to CMS for review that meets the review threshold. If submission is not palatable, it is still possible to write fully adequate MSAs that reasonably consider Medicare’s interests. The important questions to ask are: 1) Does the writing methodology stand on its own apart from CMS submission, rather than taking advantage of the lack of oversight to unreasonably shave costs? 2) If there is indemnification language provided with the non-submit MSA, is it heavily contingent on exceptions that weaken the protection it purports to provide? 3) Understanding that the risk mainly falls in the lap of the beneficiary and is triggered at exhaustion, is a competent administrator with the ability to contain medical costs in the picture to make sure the MSA has the best chance of remaining solvent throughout the applicant’s life?
For a downloadable copy of this piece please click here.
Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) arrangement beneficiaries have some very specific limitations when it comes to how their money is spent. When it comes to choosing a provider, the options are wide open. A beneficiary will often deal with who they know or a provider that is close to their home. As a cash payer with limited funds to cover all future Medicare allowable and injury related expenses, the wrong choice can put a beneficiary in a world of hurt. Here are some best practices when choosing a provider to treat an injury post settlement and using Medicare Set-Aside funds:
While MSA funds can be used to pay any provider that supplies covered care related to the injury, not every provider is able to bill Medicare for these medical goods or services. If a beneficiary properly exhausts their MSA funds in a given year (when the MSA is funded with a structured annuity and receives deposits periodically) or the MSA funds have permanently exhausted, Medicare will assume responsibility to pay Medicare covered expenses related to the injury and coordinate with any other applicable insurance plan. If the provider is not Medicare certified, that provider will not be paid by Medicare even if the beneficiary has maintained Medicare coverage. This can leave the beneficiary as the responsible party if no other insurance benefit is available. We recommend choosing Medicare certified providers to avoid such situations.
A beneficiary with MSA funds is considered a cash payer by medical providers. There is no “in network” policy with set payment rates for cash payers. If the provider is not accustomed to dealing with patients without a primary medical insurance plan, the provider may charge its full retail rate. A beneficiary may have a difficult time negotiating a medical bill on their own or in advance of services being completed and this can add up to a significant expenditure of MSA funds. It is best to ask about cash rates and if any discounts are available when contacting a new provider.
Billing insurance for medical services means increased access to patients because it agrees to a negotiated contract that reduces the average cost of services. Some providers opt to avoid insurance altogether. This allows these providers to charge higher rates for services because there is no set rate or maximum charge. Moreover, these providers will only take the beneficiary’s cash even if they have a group health plan or public benefit. This lack of flexibility is often costly for the beneficiary.
This may seem obvious, but as a professional administrator, Medivest sees beneficiaries choosing providers that are not familiar with treating traumatic injuries post-settlement. This can be problematic from a communication standpoint (while the beneficiary and the administrator know the injury backwards and forwards, the doctor may see very few of these cases) and it can make billing and payment more difficult or present difficulties when seeking a referral to a specialists. The most efficient approach is to choose a provider that KNOWS the beneficiary’s type of injury from direct experience.
Here are a few common red flag phrases from providers that limit the beneficiary’s options:
“We only bill Medicare.”
“We don’t deal with liability injuries.”
“We never treat workers’ compensation injuries.”
“We only treat workers’ compensation injuries.”
“We don’t bill third parties.”
“We don’t take cash.”
Providers experienced with multiple scenarios provide the beneficiary with options when it comes to treatment and payment.
A beneficiary that is not acquainted with the typical market rate or medical fee schedules is advised to run away from any agreement or contract that would lock them into a guaranteed payment rate. A rate agreement of this nature can put the beneficiary on the hook for significantly inflated cost. If they’re using a professional administrator (and they should be), it can negotiate with the provider directly on the beneficiary’s behalf. Don’t confuse this document with an authorization form to bill insurance or a notification that the beneficiary is responsible for any non-covered services. They’re not the same thing.
Over-the-counter supplements or supplies that are sold directly by a provider typically come with a markup and can usually be found cheaper elsewhere. Your providers may recommend a device or a supplement that they conveniently stocks for sale. You should be aware that the providers may be looking to increase their margin per patient. Take your doctor’s advice and do your research. If the recommended supply of supplement makes sense, shop around for a better price.
Most providers within the US Healthcare system do not understand what a Medicare Set-Aside is or what it is for. They are frequently hesitant to accept it as a form of payment. They may mistake it for a Medicare Part C plan or out of network benefit. Sometimes, they are highly suspicious and cannot believe that Medicare is not the primary payer. It can be daunting for a beneficiary to be in the position of educating a provider’s billing office. A professional administrator is a great resource for coordinating benefits and having the MSA be the primary payment source, when applicable.
A MSA beneficiary with a persistent injury deserves the best care possible, but also needs to be positioned to ensure the MSA funds last. And if they don’t last, that the beneficiary has a proper safety net in place. Part of this strategy includes finding the right providers to not only address the injury with competence but also provide affordable and flexible options to ensure continuity of care and protect the beneficiary from having to dip into other settlement or personal funds. Even when Medicare is responsible for covering injury care, the beneficiary can be billed for any deductible, copay, or coinsurance balances.
Last, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that a professional administrator addresses these challenges every day and not only talks to a beneficiary’s provider on their behalf, but will also coordinate benefits with other insurance, communicate with CMS about the MSA, and negotiate rates in ways a patient will struggle to match. If you or your client is a current or future beneficiary of a Medicare Set-Aside, don’t hesitate to contact Medivest. We help thousands of beneficiaries avoid these and many other MSA pitfalls.
Medivest will be joining the Ohio Association for Justice June 14 -18 for the biggest event in Ohio plaintiff’s law, the 2021 OAJ Annual Convention. This year’s Convention is designed with flexibility in mind, with a hybrid option to attend in-person and virtually as well as a virtual-only option. Virtual participants will receive links to all live streaming options and complimentary access to the Annual Convention streaming library through the end of September. Tune in for your favorite sessions and earn the rest of your CLEs where you want, when you want. Earn up to half of your biennial CLEs while networking and building connections with plaintiff’s attorneys from around the state and midwest.
Director of Sales, Scott Mattingly will be in attendance. Please visit him at the Medivest booth for information regarding Professional Administration, Lien Resolution, Medicare Set-Aside Reports, and all of Medivest’s settlement solutions for workers’ compensation and liability cases. For more information on the event please visit https://www.oajconvention.com/.
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.
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.”
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::
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  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 , 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.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released Version 1.3 of the Self-Administration Toolkit for Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements (WCMSAs) on October 10, 2019. The latest Self-Administration Toolkit Version 1.3 is now available to download here. Furthermore, the newest version 5.9 of the WCMSAP User Guide was updated on October 7, 2019. That can be accessed here. It contains updates similar to those found in the updates to the Self-Administration Toolkit discussed in this article.
The three most notable changes included in Version 1.3 are as follows:
Section 8: Annual Attestation – of the Self-Administration Toolkit conformed its language to that of the WCMSA Reference Guide, Section 19.2 titled Death of The Claimant, and can be viewed here. Now, self-administering claimants can access and submit attestations via the same WCMSAP web portal that professional administrators use.
If you are a beneficiary administering your own account, you can submit your year attestation online by accessing the WCMSA Portal through the MyMedicare.gov website.
If you are a representative or other identified administrator for the account, you can log in directly to the WCMSA Portal to submit the yearly attestation. To access, go to https://www.cob.cms.hhs.gov/WCMSA/login
The WCMSAP User Guide, available under the Reference Materials header once you log in to the site, has details regarding the submission of attestations online.
CMS will be hosting two (2) webinars regarding the recent WCMSAP enhancements which will allow Medicare beneficiaries or their representatives to submit annual attestations electronically for approved WCMSAs.
Section 10: Inheritance – Added language regarding notifying the BCRC when death of the Medicare beneficiary occurs before the WCMSA is permanently exhausted. A summary follows: In such cases, the respective Medicare Regional Office (RO) and the BCRC will coordinate to help ensure all timely filed bills related to the WC claim have been paid. This may involve keeping the WCMSA account open for some time after the date of death, as health care providers can submit their bills to Medicare up to 12 months after the date of service. Any remaining WCMSA funds may be paid in accordance with the respective state law and administration agreement if applicable, once Medicare’s interests have been protected. Often the settlement itself will state how to spend funds after the death of the claimant and payment of care-related expenses.
Section 12: Where to Get Help – The mailing address to where WCMSA Proposals, Final Settlements, and Re-Review Requests are to be sent was updated to be consistent with the current WCMSA Reference Guide. That address is:
WCMSA Proposal/Final Settlement
P.O. Box 13889
Oklahoma City, OK 73113-8899
On Page 18 of the Self-Administration Toolkit
The mailing address for situations when the WCMSAP or MyMedicare.gov portals are not being used, self-administering claimants may submit attestations yearly account attestations and expenditure letters to the following address:
P.O. Box 138832
Oklahoma City, OK 73113
Medivest will continue to monitor changes occurring at CMS and will keep its readers up to date when such changes are announced. For questions, feel free to reach out to the Medivest representative in your area by clicking here or call us direct at 877.725.2467.