Not So Secret Tips for Quick and Successful MSA Submissions

June 8, 2017

It’s no secret quick and successful Medicare Set-Aside submissions to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are driven by medical records which meet CMS requirements for review and approval of the MSA. At Tower MSA Partners we strive to work with our customers to prepare and submit to CMS MSAs meeting these requirements. By doing so, we limit the time for CMS to review the MSA and avoid unexpected MSA counter-highers which may jeopardize settlement of a workers’ compensation case or at least delay resolution.

Based upon the CMS WCMSA Reference Guide, which provides CMS’s official MSA review guidelines, and our years of experience in the submission of MSAs to CMS keep the following tips in mind during the process of preparing and submitting an MSA for review:

Provide medical records for the last two years of treatment, no matter how long ago those last two years were. CMS matches claim payment history to medical records.A date of service listed in the claim payment history without the relevant medical record submitted will usually result in a Development Letter requesting the record.

    Example: If the last date of treatment occurred on 7/15/2016, then medical records are required back to 7/15/2014 or the date of injury, whichever is earlier.

If there are multiple body parts and/or dates of injury, then two years of medical records are required for each settling body part or condition.

    Example: The MSA contains a 3/12/2016 date of injury to the right knee and a 6/7/1998 date of injury to the low back. Besides medical records for the right knee, medical records for the low back will also be required, even if treatment ended long ago.

The requirement for two years of medical records extends to medical records for treatment for which the WC carrier has not paid.

    Example: A claim has been accepted and paid for quite some time, but as a result of a favorable IME report, the WC carrier denies payment for medical treatment after 11/1/2016. However, the claimant continues to treat for the claimed injury-related condition. CMS will require production of the medical records for post 11/1/2016 treatment.

Besides providing two years of medical records, if the claimant has not been treated by any doctor for any reason within the last two calendar years, then the last treating physician will usually need to provide a statement confirming last date of service and that all prescription medications, if any, were discontinued as of that date.The exception to this would be if at the time of the last date of service the physician provided a clear statement that the claimant was released from care with no ongoing treatment or medications

    Example: The last treatment record is a date of service of 5/12/2015 at which time the claimant was noted to be on Tramadol and was to follow-up in six months. There is no evidence that the claimant followed-up. A statement will be required from this physician confirming last date of service and that medications were discontinued.

Open-ended or inconsistent treatment recommendations must be addressed with the treating physician.

    Example: Last date of service on 3/7/2016 documents the claimant to be on one medication, Tramadol. However, a review of the prescription history through 5/31/2016 documents Tramadol and Norco. A statement from the treating physician is required to clarify prescription medication use.

Provide all relevant legal determinations which in anyway limit medical care.

    Example: A judicial decision after a hearing on the merits finds the claimant’s request, supported by the treating physician’s recommendation, for a spinal cord stimulator, to not be reasonable or necessary to treat the claimant’s work-related condition.

Along with medical records, provide the prescription history for the medications paid on the claim.If for whatever reason the medical records document injury-related prescription medication use, but the medications were not paid on the claim, then a prescription history will need to be obtained from the claimant’s pharmacy.

    Example: The treatment records document ongoing Oxycodone use which, based upon the prescription payment history, is not being paid on the claim. An itemization from the claimant’s personal pharmacy will be required documenting fills on Oxycodone.

Tower MSA Partners Physician Follow-up Service: At no additional cost to the customer, as part of preparing an MSA for submission to CMS, Tower MSA’s Physician Follow-up Team will reach out to a treating physician to confirm last date of service and clarify prescription medication use, whether continued or discontinued.

Other common questions regarding medical records and MSA submission to CMS:

Can depositions be submitted to CMS for review?

Yes, but in our experience, CMS will give more weight to opinions and statement made in physician reports documenting an examination of the claimant over opinions contained in a deposition.

Can an IME be submitted to CMS for review?

    Yes, but in most cases CMS will rely upon the opinions and recommendations of the treating physician over that of an IME physician. In states where there are court-appointed IMEs (or AMEs in California), depending upon the facts of the case, CMS may rely upon those opinions and recommendations over those of the treating physician.

Following Tower MSA’s preparation of the MSA report, the claimant underwent additional treatment. Should Tower MSA review and submit these medical records to CMS?

    Yes, there is often a lag time between the time the MSA is prepared and when it is submitted to CMS during which additional injury-related treatment occurs. While in general we advise updating an MSA report after six months, quite often there is additional medical care occurring in a timeframe of less than six months. We will review any recent medical records provided and determine if the MSA needs to be revised prior to submission to CMS.

Can the claimant provide a statement regarding last date of work-related medical care in lieu of a statement from the treating physician?

    In situations where the treating physician no longer practices or is deceased, a statement from the claimant may be sufficient. However, if the claimant’s statement is insufficient then the claimant may need to produce either medical records or a statement from his current Primary Care Physician confirming no ongoing care for the work-related injury.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Tower MSA Partners at or (888) 331-4941.