MSP Compliance Blog

Expert summary, analysis and recommendations on issues impacting Medicare Secondary Payer compliance.

New CMS MSA Review Contractor: Different Name, Same Policy and Procedures

Posted on March 7, 2018 by Daniel Anders

While the review contractor is changing, the Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA) review policies and procedures remain the same. This was the message related to attendees of the Workers Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC) transition webinar held by CMS, yesterday, March 7, 2018. The purpose of the webinar was to introduce the WCMSA community to the new WCRC and provide information on the transition from Provider Resources, which ceases its work on March 16, 2018, to Capitol Bridge, which commences its work on March 19, 2018.

John Jenkins, CMS’s Health Insurance Specialist overseeing the WCRC contract, led off the presentation and then turned it over to Holly Haven, Capitol Bridge’s WCRC Project Director. Ms. Havens provided the following key information:

What is Not Changing

  • As our program matures, we will strive to improve both the quality of our work and the timeliness in which cases are completed through automation and our continual improvement focus.
  • The review and decision making process will remain the same.
  • WCMSA proposals will continue to be submitted through the portal or by mail to the same Oklahoma City address.
  • All established timeframes remain the same.
  • All inquiries will be handled by staff in our Pittsford, NY office, and customer service will be a priority.
  • Inquiries may still be communicated via telephone.

In summary, Capitol Bridge will continue to be guided by the guidelines laid out in the CMS WCMSA Reference Guide and maintain the 20-business day turnaround time for review of a WCMSA as required by CMS.

What is Changing

  • Processing of all cases will be handled out of their facility in Pittsford, NY.
  • New phone number for the WCRC is (833) 295-3773 with customer service hours from 9am to 5pm EST.
  • Email address for the WCRC is WCRC@capitolbridgellc.com
  • Fax number is (585) 425-5390

In the Q&A session following the formal presentation additional information was provided:

  • WCMSAs will be reviewed by RNs with the MSCC credential.
  • The WCRC staff includes attorneys, physicians and pharmacists.
  • WCMSA proposals which have not been reviewed by the outgoing contractor by March 16 will be transferred to the new contractor for review.
  • In response to a question as whether to expect an MSA backlog such that review times will lengthen, CMS noted that the outgoing contractor was typically completing its reviews in less than the required timeframe of 20 days.The implication then is the new contractor may be using the full 20 business days to complete its review.
  • A question was raised regarding Liability MSAs, but no answer was given as the webinar was not for the purpose of addressing policy questions.

While the CMS WCMSA policy remains the same, the interpretation and implementation of that policy will soon be in new hands. Tower MSA will be closing monitoring WCMSA reviews through Capitol Bridge to ascertain what, if any, differences can be identified in the allocation of care in the WCMSA compared to the prior contractor. Variances outside of established CMS guidelines will be challenged.

If you have any questions, please contact Dan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, at 888.331.4941 or Daniel.anders@towermsa.com.

What Do Medicare Part D, Medicare Set-Asides and Parenting Have in Common?

Posted on March 2, 2018 by Rita Wilson

For those who have raised children, or are in the process of doing so, one of our biggest challenges is to instill in our children some sort of positive decision-making paradigm in our children.  You can call it religious values, moral absolutes, grounding, or just plain common sense, but as parents, we set boundaries (rules) from the earliest age, and try to be consistent in our enforcement.  Our children may think we’re just mean, but this is a price we’re willing to pay if it helps establish an internal barometer to use when approached by people, thoughts and ideas that challenge them.

In raising my three children, one of the techniques I used was a simple, banded bracelet with the acronym, “WWJD” that is, What Would Jesus Do? This was a popular phrase in the Bible Belt where we lived.  I asked that they look at the bracelet each time they were faced with an obstacle or asked to do something that didn’t quite feel right.  One afternoon, my son was telling a story about something that happened at his elementary school that caused him to look at his bracelet. I was so pleased when he said he actually looked at it!  He then responded, “Mom, I tried to decide what Jesus would do, but had a little bit of a tough time, so I switched it in my head to “WWMD”, and I knew exactly what Mom would do!”  I couldn’t help laughing, but based on his response to the situation, my simple reinforcement worked.  At the same time, this also reminded me that our actions speak much louder than our words….children will “do as we do” long before they will ”do as we say.”

How does this relate to Medicare Part D and Medicare Set Asides?

Each day, one of my first activities is to review my Google Alerts to look for news about NGHPs, Medicare Secondary Payer issues and opioids.  This morning, the article that drew my attention was from MedPageToday.com entitled CMS Proposes Opioid Prescribing Limits for Medicare Enrollees.  My first thought in reading the article was that this was great news.

“We are proposing important new actions to reduce seniors’ risk of being addicted to or overdoing it on opioids while still having access to important treatment options,” said Demetrios Kouzoukas, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare.

“We believe these actions will reduce the oversupply of opioids in our communities.”

Key components of the proposal include:

  • Hard formulary levels at pharmacies that would restrict the amount of opioids beneficiaries could receive
  • Establishment of a safety level of 90 morphine mg equivalent (MME)
  • Limiting the # of pills and days supply in an initial prescription for acute pain

According to Kouzoukas, “these are triggers … [that] can prompt conversations between physicians, patients, and plans about appropriate opioid use and prescribing.”

I then realized what CMS was doing.  CMS was setting boundaries to help physicians, patients and plans make better decisions about opioid use…. the same type of boundaries I set for my children so they would make better decisions as adults.  What a great idea!  If physicians, patients and plans (both Medicare and workers’ compensation) can dialogue before Rxs are filled, better decisions about opioids are inevitable and the frequency of opioid addiction will diminish.

So what’s the problem?

Unfortunately, there remains a problem in the world of workers’ compensation and the WCMSA review process.  While I applaud CMS’s effort, there remains a strong disconnect between CMS’s proactive stance on opioid limitations with Medicare Part D and its opioid-friendly review process for WCMSAs.  At the same time, I must also admit to a similar disconnect between what happens with prescription opioids during the life of a workers’ compensation claim and what we are asking CMS to do when reviewing the MSA at settlement time.  Are we asking  CMS to “do as I say,” instead of providing the example of   “do as I do?”

Can we ‘connect the dots’?

After reading the article, I realized that as an MSP compliance company that has integrated opioid triggers into its Pre-MSA Triage and review process since Day #1, Tower now has a new weapon in its arsenal to assist clients to identify pharmacy obstacles as early possible, and to address issues of inappropriate drug use.  By advising clients to establish and enforce “CMS-like” boundaries at Rx fill time, we have the potential to reduce opioid use in workers’ compensation just as CMS seeks to accomplish with Medicare Part D.  Through such efforts, we can reinforce dialogue between physicians, claimants and workers’ compensation plans before the Rx is filled, and hopefully facilitate better decisions about the first opioid Rx.

And as for the disconnect between Medicare Part D and the WCMSA review process, we cannot force CMS to change its WCMSA prescription drug review process.  We can, however, leverage CMS’s expertise to support better outcomes with Medicare beneficiaries, MSAs and settlements by mirroring their Medicare Part D policies and processes within the workers’ compensation PBM model.  In doing so, we provide CMS with a positive example of their own recommendations implemented successfully, and can hopefully encourage them to “do as we do.

Conclusion

So how do we affect change in opioid prescribing habits in workers’ compensation?  It’s as simple as the bracelet I gave my children.  From Day #1 of a claim involving an active or soon to be active Medicare beneficiary, we continually ask the question, “What Would Medicare Do?” and we execute.

Tower MSA Partners to Sponsor Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) – TV

Posted on August 1, 2017 by Tower MSA Partners

Tower MSA Partners is sponsoring WCI-TV, the televised coverage of Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Workers’ Compensation Education Conference, and is dedicating its TV segments to examining opioids.

“Tower is pleased to partner with WCI to sponsor WCI-TV for the 3rd consecutive year and participate in the interview process throughout the conference. With opioid use in the forefront of issues facing workers’ compensation payers, we will explore prescribing habits, addiction and interventions from different disciplines within the system,” said Rita Wilson, CEO of Tower MSA Partners.

Some of the perspectives and industry leaders featured in Tower’s interviews are:

  • Claims ManagementCarrie Struzynski, RN, LHRM, CHRM, MSN, PhDc, Quarterback/Senior Manager, Risk Management, Safety & Insurance, Randstad North America, Inc.
  • MSP ComplianceDan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, Tower MSA Partners
  • Peer ReviewMark Pew, Senior Vice President, PRIUM
  • PhysicianMel Pohl, MD, FASAM, Chief Medical Officer, Las Vegas Recovery Center
  • Pharmacy Benefit ManagementPhil Walls, RPh, Chief Clinical & Compliance Officer, myMatrixx
  • Public PolicyMark Walls, Safety National’s Vice President of Communications, and Kimberly George, Senior Healthcare Advisor, Sedgwick Claims Management Services

From its studios near the exhibit hall, WCI-TV’s programming will be aired throughout the conference area, in conference hotels’ guest rooms, on shuttles, WCI’s website, e-blasts, and on You Tube. It is produced by CNTV, a Winter Park, Florida-based company that delivers a news approach to the convention television business.

The 2017 WCI WCEC will be held August 6-9 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

The full article may be found here.

WorkersCompensation.com: Tower MSA Partners’ Rita Wilson Predicts CMS Re-Review Changes Will Help Payers

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Daniel Anders

Tower MSA Partners CEO, Rita Wilson, was recently interviewed by WorkersCompensation.com following her participation in a January 24, 2017 “State of MSP” webinar presented by the National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals (NAMSAP).

Workerscompensation.com asked Rita to comment on CMS’s December 21, 2016 announcement regarding its plans to update its WCMSA re-review process in 2017. This includes expansion of the process to previously approved MSAs where there has been a substantial change in the claimant’s medical condition and the case has not settled (For details see Tower MSA blog on the announcement: CMS Announces Plans for 2017 Expansion of MSA Re-Review Process & New Policy Regarding URs in MSAs)

Rita’s comments to WorkersCompensation.com follow:

“CMS will need to establish the parameters for re-review and define ‘substantial changes.’ We expect costly procedures such as surgeries and spinal cord stimulators to be included,” Wilson said. “A WCMSA involving patients who have weaned off expensive polypharmacy regimens could also qualify.”

“Tower’s workflow and decision-tree software application identifies recommended, not-yet-performed procedures and intervenes to address inappropriate treatment prior to submitting an MSA,” Wilson said, “But this could be a game-changer for payers with CMS-approved MSAs that they were unable to settle.”

The full article may be found here.

Christmas Miracles Can Happen in Workers’ Compensation

Posted on December 23, 2016 by Rita Wilson

For those of us who deal with MSAs, it’s all too common to see claims at settlement time that started out as basic and simple, then spiraled downward as a result of bad prescribing habits, increased drug use and opioid addiction.  We hope for a different ending, but can  miracles really happen?

Background

In late 2015, Tower completed a pharmacy project for a small employer in California.  In the course of the project, drug triggers were identified, physicians were contacted and claimants were challenged to settle or make changes in treatment.  As you might imagine, many of the physicians fought the request for change.  But through perseverance, and working in tandem with the client, we pushed forward.

The Story as Shared by our Client

Dear Hany,

A few weeks ago, I was looking over the  case for one of the California claimants and wanted to share the amazing results we have achieved with this gentleman.

This case involved a 26 year old man at time of injury. He sustained a minor back injury but was taking Hydrocodone, Testosterone, Celecoxib, Lyrica, Nortriptyline, Methocarbamol, and FENTANYL.  With the recommendations and assistance from the Tower MSA Partners team, as well as support from his wife, we were able to get him into a new treating physician who agreed with our goal. He was weaned off of the Fentanyl, Methocarbamol, testosterone, hydrocodone, and Celecoxib. He has even started an exercise program.  He is now both proud and happy to report how well he is doing.

The injured worker is now 51 years old and he sadly notes that he missed out on 25 years of his life and his children’s lives because he was so “drugged”.   On a positive note, however, his new treating physician has been wonderful to work with and we see only good things for this claimant.

On the financial side we have now realized a reduction in the monthly Rx spend from $1,200 per month down to $600.  The injured worker is now only taking Nortriptyline, Lyrica and Celebrex and we expect to reduce reserves next year and approach him for a settlement in June, 2018.  None of this would have been possible if not for the Rx project and your team’s expertise, guidance and follow up assistance.

While we have had great success with many of the claims that we partnered on, this particular claim was really about improving his quality of life.  So please share my THANK YOU and gratitude with your team. Let them know that what they do can save a life and that is priceless.

It’s True….Miracles Can Happen in Workers’ Compensation

What a wonderful way to end the day and begin our holiday celebrations!

From all of us at Tower MSA Partners, our best wishes for a wonderful holiday, and a safe and prosperous 2017!

For Media Inquires, Contact:

Helen King Patterson
813.690.4787
helen@kingknight.com

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