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Friday, March 18, 2011

Industry Coalition Wants to Cut CMS Conditional Payments

A group of about 50 employers, insurance carriers and vendors have formed a coalition to endorse legislation  (H.R.1063) introduced this week that would ease reporting requirements and reimbursement procedures of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). The organization, the Medicare Advocacy Recovery Group [MARC],  contends that the proposed legislation will:
  • "Empowering Medicare to provide settling parties with the amount of their MSP repayment obligation during the settlement process, will allow taxpayers to settle quicker, and repay the Medicare Trust Fund faster.
  • "MSP Reform will provide a more affordable and less intrusive MSP system that protects beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust Fund, but does not waste limited judicial and other resources or needlessly confuse parties trying to settle a claim resulting from an injury to a beneficiary. 
  • "MSP Reform will also eliminate the required use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) in the reporting process, create a basic right of appeal for all parties to resolve a CMS MSP determination, clarify the statute of limitations, and require the CMS Actuary to determine a threshold below which the recoveries are so small it makes no sense to apply the complex MSP laws. 
Theoretically it sounds like the change would create a more efficient system to establish: time limits for claim reimbursement; a statute of limitations for liability (3 years); an avenue for redress directly to the judicial system; and a threshold amount for reimbursement. However, the proposal would actually defeat the basic philosophy of the workers' compensation act. 

The convoluted logic of the employer/insurance group just makes no sense. It is like saying that I didn't bother buying enough postage on a timely basis so I will just mail my letter at half-price. The universal legislative intent of workers' compensation act mandates that the employer is responsible for medical care of its injured workers. The insurance industry has tried other gimmicks  before to continue its long history of cost shifting, and those have rightly failed as Congress wouldn't buy into them.

While employers and insurance carriers delay and deny compensation benefits, shifting the cost to the taxpayers through depletion of the Medicare system, is both offensive and repugnant. If the coalition wants to ride the carousel of "it's not how long, but how much," in doling out benefits, then they should not blame CMS for delays and penalties, caused by the coalition's own failure to report on a timely basis in the first place.

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