Bill would speed up Medicare Secondary Payer reimbursement

The Daily Record Newswire

Legislation that would speed up the rate at which Medicare and its beneficiaries are reimbursed for costs under the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) system has been introduced in the Senate.

Under the MSP system, Medicare beneficiaries who receive a personal injury verdict or settlement for injuries must reimburse Medicare for related medical costs.

The bipartisan Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, S. 1718, is designed to remove the uncertainty and logistical problems with the program that often delay personal injury victims from receiving settlement payments.

The bill would create a process that allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to disclose the MSP amount before settlement so it can be factored into the settlement.

It would also prevent Medicare from pursuing claims that do not cover their own expenses, direct Medicare to establish an alternative method of identifying individuals that safeguards patients' sensitive personal information and set a three-year statute of limitations for most claims.

"Streamlining third party payment fixes some of the bureaucratic requirements that often stand in the way of Medicare being reimbursed for services that they are not supposed to pay for," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who cosponsored the bill with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

The American Association for Justice praised the proposed measure.

"Taxpayers, seniors, businesses, insurers are all hurt by the inefficiency of Medicare Secondary Payer, a system designed to repay taxpayers millions of dollars," said AAJ President Gary M. Paul in a statement.

"This bill is called the SMART Act for a reason: it is a practical solution to help streamline a system that is currently denying seniors benefits they are entitled to while costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year."

Earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would delay enforcement of new Medicare Secondary Payer reporting rules, which require attorneys, insurers and even plaintiffs to report any personal injury settlement, judgment or other award to CMS, until Jan. 1, 2012.

Confusion about the rule and the lack of guidelines has united lawyers for plaintiffs, defendants and insurers.

Published: Mon, Oct 24, 2011

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