(c) 2010-2024 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Lack of Equality in the CMS Reimbursement Policy

The current debate on national health care has brought to the forefront some of the most glaring problems that are compounding the workers’ compensation medical delivery system. Since the enactment of The Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) in 1980, the Federal Government has desperately tried to prevent cost shifting from the workers’ compensation system to the Federal Medicare program. The efforts of The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) to seek medical reimbursement of past and future medical care costs from workers’ compensation beneficiaries, in a uniform fashion across the entire national spectrum, is plagued with equality issues.

In a very insightful article, Robert Pear of The New York Times on June 9, 2009 reported that costs of medical care were not uniform through out the nation and that an increase in expenditures for treatment did not improve the outcome. These “disparities,” as Pear points out demonstrate major fluctuations in the cost of Medicare payments for the same types of treatment. “Nationally, according to the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, Medicare spent an average of $8,304 per beneficiary in 2006. Among states, New York was tops, at $9,564, and Hawaii was lowest, at $5,311.”

The costs for medical care paid by Medicare based upon geographical jurisdictions are unequal. More specifically, higher costs states were reported to be: Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. The lower cost states were reported as: Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington.

CMS has sought to seek reimbursement under the MSP Act for medical care, present and future, based on a nationally tailored program. Unfortunately, the benefits paid by each state program are not the same.

While the program to deter the shift of billions of dollars Medicare funds yearly to pay for work related injuries and disease is a noble goal and legitimate function, it is now unequally applied to beneficiaries across the country since all workers’ compensation benefit programs are not the same and the costs of medical treatment vary.

The need for uniformity and equality should be address by Congress as it debates the future of medical care legislation. The enactment of a single payer medical care system would be a good first step to leveling the playing field for both employers and employees.

No comments: