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Friday, October 1, 2010

Medicare Denied Reimbursement From Claim Of Survivor: Held Separate & Distinct

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has held that Medicare is not entitled to reimbursement under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) when the the surviving children's allocated share of proceed is the result of a wrongful death claim. The Court reasoned that under Florida law, any claim of the estate is separate and distinct from the claim of a survivor. Under Florida law, child's loss of parental companionship claim is a property right belonging to the child.

Medicare through the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not participate in the Florida probate action. HHS had refused to recognize the validity of that decision of allocation of the Florida Probate action.

"Counsel for the survivors and the estate acted sensibly, in a cost-effective manner. The nursing home neglect claim was settled for the full value of the available insurance. Clearly, if the language of the field manual applied, in practice, it would lead to an absurd Catch-22 result. Forcing counsel to file a lawsuit would incur additional costs, further diminishing the already paltry sum available for settlement. This flies in the face of judicial and public policy.

"The Secretary's position would have a chilling effect on settlement. The Secretary's position compels plaintiffs to force their tort claims to trial, burdening the court system. It is a financial disincentive to accept otherwise reasonable settlement offers. It would allow tortfeasors to escape responsibility.

"Without citing any statutory authority, regulatory authority, or case law authority, the Secretary and the district court's reliance upon language in a field manual is unpersuasive. The Secretary is not entitled to any share of the Burke surviving children's loss of parental companionship claims.

The decision may have a sweeping national impact on workers' compensation dependency claims, as they are also separate and distinct actions against an employer.

Bradley v, Sebelius, 621 F. 3d 1330, 2010 WL 3769132 (C.A. 11 Fla. 2010)

For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered work related accident and injuries.

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