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Removal of SSN from Medicare IDs Detailed in CMS Open Door Forum

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Daniel Anders

On January 17, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held a Special Open Door Forum to detail how the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) impacts the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) community. CMS’s explanation is summarized below with Tower MSA’s thoughts on the practical implications of this change.

SSNRI Explained

Presently, Medicare beneficiaries are assigned a Healthcare Insurance Claim Number (HICN) which generally includes either their or their spouses Social Security Number (SSN) followed by a letter, commonly an A or B. For the purpose of reducing identify theft involving SSNs, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 included a provision requiring CMS to remove SSNs from all Medicare cards by April 2019.

In accordance with the Act, CMS announced that starting in April 2018 it will begin to issue what will be called Medicare Beneficiary Identifiers (MBIs) to replace the HICNs currently in use. MBIs will be 11-alphanumeric characters in length with letters only in uppercase. The MBIs will be assigned to approximately 60 million current Medicare beneficiaries and 90 million deceased/archived Medicare beneficiaries. CMS targets completion of the assignment of MBIs by April 2019.

CMS advised there will be significant outreach to Medicare beneficiaries, medical providers, and other stakeholders, such as the Medicare Secondary Payer community, prior to implementation of this change.

CMS has a dedicated website regarding the SSNRI which may be found here.

SSNRI Impact on MSP Compliance

In regard to Medicare Secondary Payer compliance processes, the MSP compliance community currently exchanges data with CMS through Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting, the Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Portal (MSPRP) and the Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Portal (WCMSAP). CMS made the following statements concerning the SSNRI’s impact on this exchange of information:

• Fields presently identified as HICN will be retitled “Medicare ID.”
• As the HICN fields currently accept 11 characters there will be no expansion of these fields as a result of the implementation of MIBs.
• SSNs can continue to be used for querying whether a particular claimant is a Medicare beneficiary through the Section 111 Reporting process and for communication through the MSPRP and WCMSAP.
• Use of partial SSNs will continue to be permitted for querying Medicare eligibility.
• After April 2018 the CMS response to a Section 111 query will either provide the HICN or the MBI, depending upon whether the particular Medicare beneficiary has been issued an MBI.
• Outgoing documentation through the MSPRP or WCMSAP will include the HICN or MIB, depending upon what was most recently reported. For example, if an MSA is submitted to CMS for review through the WCMSAP and contains a HICN, then the response from CMS will include the HICN. On the other hand, if an MIB is submitted, then the CMS response will include the MIB.

Treasury Department to No Longer Include Medicare ID

Also announced during the forum is an impending change by the Treasury Department to no longer include the HICN (or the MIB when it becomes active) in its correspondence stemming from Medicare conditional payment recovery. Instead, the Treasury Department will only list the Case Recovery ID that has been assigned to the case by either the Benefits Coordination and Recovery Contractor (BCRC) or the Commercial Repayment Center (CRC). This change is expected to occur before the end of 2017.

Practical Implications

An important takeaway from CMS’s explanation of the SSNRI is that for MSP compliance purposes we can continue to use SSNs in communicating with CMS and its contractors. What we should recognize is that as of April 2018 besides SSNs, claimants may be providing MIBs rather than HICNs. Further, it should be recognized that the Section 111 query process may return an MIB, rather than an HICN, starting in April 2018.

Our Tower MSP Automation Suite will seamlessly transition to recognition and reporting of MBIs for Section 111 Reporting purposes starting in April 2019. We do recommend to our clients that they confirm their internal claims database will be fully capable of recognizing the MBIs when they become active for Medicare beneficiary claimants.

Finally, the Treasury Department’s removal of any Medicare beneficiary identifier from its conditional payment recovery correspondence may present some difficulty to workers’ compensation, liability and no-fault plans in identifying the particular claimant from which the demand stems. Tower MSA will work with our clients to address any uncertainty, but we also recommend to our clients that they work with us to actively resolve Medicare conditional payments on open and settling claims such that these demands never are referred to the Treasury Department.

If you have any questions regarding the SSNRI, please contact Tower MSA Partners Chief Compliance Officer, Dan Anders, at (847) 946-2880 or Daniel.anders@towermsa.com

CMS MSA Review Expansion to Liability Planned for 2018

Posted on January 4, 2017 by Daniel Anders

We are not even a week into 2017, but already have news to share regarding Medicare’s planned expansion of its Workers’ Compensation MSA review process to liability in 2018. In its recently released Request for Proposal for the Workers Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) includes an option allowing CMS to expand the responsibilities of the WCRC to review of Liability Medicare Set-Asides (LMSAs) and No-Fault Medicare Set-Asides (NFMSAs) effective July 1, 2018.

The CMS WCRC RFP Solicitation may be viewed here.

Background on CMS Review of MSAs

Since 2001 CMS has had in place an official voluntary review process for Worker’ Compensation Medicare Set-Asides (WCMSAs). A WCMSA, as CMS states, is a “financial agreement that allocates a portion of a workers’ compensation settlement to pay for future medical services related to the workers’ compensation injury.” The purpose of the review then is “to independently price the future Medicare-covered medical services costs related to the WC injury, illness, and/or disease and to price the future Medicare covered prescription drug expenses related to the WC injury, illness and/or disease thereby taking Medicare’s payment interests appropriately into account.”

These WCMSA reviews were initially handled by the CMS Regional Offices spread throughout the country, but eventually transitioned to a centralized WCRC in 2005 (The CMS Regional Offices must still approve the review recommendation of the WCRC before it is released to the WCMSA submitter). CMS’s RFP solicitation for the new WCRC contract indicates the contract is to be awarded by June 30, 2017 with a contract term running for five years from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2022.

Expectations for Liability MSA Reviews

Presently, CMS allows its 10 Regional Offices to accept voluntary requests for review of LMSAs at each office’s discretion. Some Regional Offices have consistently refused to review any LMSAs while other offices agree to review based upon criteria that seemingly changes over time and bears no indication that it is indeed the official policy of CMS. It appears then that just as it did in 2005 when CMS took the responsibility away from the Regional Offices for reviewing WCMSAs, CMS is now considering centralizing the process of reviewing LMSAs with a contractor, leaving the Regional Offices to only approve of the contractor’s recommendations.

Some may recall CMS launched a prior initiative to establish a formal policy for consideration of future medicals in liability settlements when it issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2012. This initial effort was ultimately withdrawn by CMS in 2014. CMS’s new initiative began with this June 9, 2016 notice on the CMS website:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering expanding its voluntary Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements (MSA) amount review process to include the review of proposed liability insurance (including self-insurance) and no-fault insurance MSA amounts. CMS plans to work closely with the stakeholder community to identify how best to implement this potential expansion. CMS will provide future announcements of the proposal and expects to schedule town hall meetings later this year. Please continue to monitor CMS.gov for additional updates.

No town hall meetings were scheduled in 2016, however, based upon this RFP indicating LMSA reviews will not begin until at least July 1, 2018, CMS has given itself 18 months to develop and implement a formal LMSA review policy. In terms of how many liability settlements such a review process would impact, CMS seems uncertain. A Statement of Work attached to the RFP indicates “reviews could represent as much as 11,000 additional cases (based on all FY2015 NGHP demands), or as little as 800 additional cases annually, depending upon industry response.”

Tower MSA Takeaways

Over the past 15 years, starting with the formalized review of WCMSAs, continuing with the implementation of Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting and recent stepped up efforts at denying injury-related medical care and recovery of conditional payments for medical care related to workers’ compensation, liability and no-fault claims, CMS has expanded its enforcement under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. It is not surprising then that CMS’s next objective is formalizing a voluntary review process for LMSAs.

It has been our experience that when CMS does implement new policy and procedures it does take a deliberative approach evidenced by the at least 18-month timeframe signaled with this RFP to expand the MSA review process to liability and no-fault. Our expectation then is over the next 18 months or longer, CMS will provide additional announcements concerning the rules and procedures around expansion of the review process.

Tower MSA will be involved in these discussions and will keep you abreast of relevant developments. In the interim, there remain important obligations of parties to liability settlements and no-fault claims under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. Rest assured that you can rely upon Tower MSA’s team of MSP compliance experts for consultation and expert guidance in liability and no-fault matters.

If you have any questions, please contact Tower MSA Partners, Chief Compliance Officer, Dan Anders, at (847) 946-2880 or daniel.anders@towermsa.com

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!

CMS Announces Plans for 2017 Expansion of MSA Re-Review Process & New Policy Regarding URs in MSAs

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Daniel Anders

Employers, carriers and claimants frustrated by the inability to obtain a revised CMS MSA approval after a substantial change in the claimant’s pre-settlement medical condition may find relief from CMS in 2017. Also in 2017, CMS will be issuing a policy regarding use of utilization reviews in MSA submissions. These potentially significant improvements in the CMS MSA review process are provided in a 12/21/2016 “teaser type” announcement on CMS’s website which states:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently revisited the task of reviewing its process for addressing requests for CMS to “re-review” otherwise approved Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) amounts. In Calendar year 2017, CMS expects to update its existing re-review process to address situations where CMS has provided an approved amount, but settlement has not occurred and the medical care that supported the approved amount has changed substantially. CMS also expects its updated process to address situations where certain states rely on Utilization Review Processes to justify proposed WCMSA amounts.

A link to the announcement may be found here.

What are the implications of this announcement from CMS?

No immediate change to CMS MSA review policies

Importantly, this is an announcement of an expected change to the MSA re-review process and the introduction of a UR policy in 2017. CMS provides no timeline beyond future announcements will occur in 2017. Consequently, there is presently no change to CMS MSA review processes or policies.

Substantial change in medical may present opportunities for revised MSA approvals

The announcement implies CMS will be expanding its MSA re-review process to cover MSA approvals where there has been a “substantial change” in the claimant’s medical condition. According to the CMS statement, this policy would only apply to cases “where settlement has not occurred.” In other words, if settlement has occurred (we assume settlement of medical) CMS will not consider a re-review.

Based upon the limited announcement it is also unclear how CMS will define “substantial change.” For example, must an actual reduction in medical care and/or prescription medication use be documented or simply a certain monetary threshold increase or decrease versus the prior MSA amount be demonstrated? This is an important question CMS will have to address as while a claimant’s medical care may not have substantially changed, the cost of the claimant’s prescription medications may have substantially reduced such as when a medication goes generic.

While the definition of “substantial change” will be the subject of a future CMS policy announcement, Tower MSA nonetheless expects this MSA Re-Review expansion to present a significant opportunity for carriers/employers and claimants to settle medical on cases which have languished unsettled for years as a result of prior high CMS MSA approvals. Reductions in a claimant’s medical costs over the years or the successful implementation of a plan to reduce a claimant’s inappropriate prescription medication regimen will yield not only a lower MSA allocation, but CMS approval of this updated MSA. The opportunity for an updated and lower MSA will facilitate claim settlements and closures.

Wait and see approach warranted regarding CMS policy on URs

The extent CMS will recognize state Utilization Review processes remains unclear based upon this announcement. Presently, CMS generally recognizes California UR determinations as a limitation on medical care in the MSA if upheld through the statutory Independent Medical Review (IMR) process as the IMR component is understood by CMS to be a final determination subject to appeal only under very limited circumstances. Other state UR processes have not been recognized as they are not considered by CMS to be final determinations. Accordingly, Tower MSA recommends taking a wait and see approach to how CMS defines its policy on URs in MSAs.

Concluding thoughts

Tower MSA applauds the potential expansion of the CMS MSA Re-Review process to encompass pre-settlement MSA approvals where there has been a substantial change in medical care as this gives carriers/employers and claimants a second-chance to settle long-standing open medical claims. We are also hopeful CMS will expand its policy on recognizing state UR process beyond California’s IMR process. We will closely monitor CMS for an announcement concerning the implementation of this policy change and provide you further analysis and recommendations.

If you have any questions regarding this CMS announcement please contact Dan Anders, Tower MSA Chief Compliance Officer, at (847) 946-2880 or Daniel.anders@towermsa.com

Workcompcentral Highlights Tower MSA CEO Rita Wilson’s “Edge” in MSP Compliance Technology

Posted on December 20, 2016 by Tower MSA Partners

Tower MSA Partners CEO, Rita Wilson, is the subject of a recent Workcompcentral article, Focus on Tech Has Guided MSP Compliance Co. CEOs Career, highlighting how Rita’s career in building better pharmaceutical and worker’s compensation technology systems led her to develop a Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) technology platform which electronically integrates medical and cost-containment information.

In discussing why the MSP compliance technology platform is a difference maker for Tower MSA, Workcompcentral’s Emily Brill quotes Rita:

Tower MSA has differentiated itself by building out a software system that monitors and shares claim information from beginning to end, integrating medical and cost containment information for “continuity” and to avoid “reinventing the wheel” by scrambling to get information from separate sources.

The article further quotes Rita in explaining how the platform assists Tower MSA in providing MSP compliance services to its clients:

Our technology platform is able to track claim information all the way through, through the conditional payment research process, through the intervention process, through the MSA process. What we did was integrate this information and track it with one software application that allows us to measure the progress each month, and determine when the right time to finalize the MSA.

In understanding the benefits of Rita’s focus on technology in MSP compliance, Ms. Brill spoke to Ann Schnure, the former Vice-President of Risk Management for Macy’s, and also a strong proponent of the use of technology in claims handling, who said of Rita:

Wilson’s focus on technology has always given the CEO an edge.

Learn more about Tower MSA Partners Chief Executive Officer Rita Wilson,  connect with her on LinkedIn and view her blog posts on our MSP Compliance Blog.

To learn more about how Tower MSA Partners’ technology platform can give you an “edge” in Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance please contact Rita Wilson at rita.wilson@towermsapartners.com or 888.331.4941.

CMS Technical Alert Confirms $750 Threshold for Liability, WC and No-Fault TPOC Reporting

Posted on December 13, 2016 by Daniel Anders

In a 12/12/2016 Technical Alert, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed their prior policy announcements concerning the implementation of a $750 threshold for the reporting of Total Payment Obligation to the Claimant (TPOC) through the Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting process. The $750 threshold for TPOC reporting in WC and No-Fault claims became effective 10/1/2016 and will become effective for liability claims effective 1/1/2017.

The mandatory reporting threshold requirements are now as follows:

Liability Insurance:
The mandatory reporting threshold for liability insurance (including self-insurance) Total Payment Obligation to the Claimant (TPOC) Amounts dated January 1, 2017 or after is changing from $1000 to $750. If the most recent TPOC Date is on or after January 1, 2017, and the cumulative TPOC Amount is greater than $750, the TPOC(s) must be reported.

Note, the liability threshold only applies to physical trauma-based liability insurance TPOC amounts. It is not applicable to TPOC amounts for alleged ingestion, implantation or exposure.

No-Fault Insurance:
The mandatory reporting threshold for no-fault insurance TPOC Amounts dated October 1, 2016 or after changed from $0 to $750. If the most recent TPOC Date is on or after October 1, 2016, and the cumulative TPOC Amount is greater than $750, the TPOC(s) must be reported.

Workers’ Compensation:
The mandatory reporting threshold for workers’ compensation TPOC Amounts dated October 1, 2016 or after changed from $300 to $750. If the most recent TPOC Date is on or after October 1, 2016, and the cumulative TPOC Amount is greater than $750, the TPOC(s) must be reported

CMS also announced that as of 1/1/2017 reporting of cumulative TPOC Amounts at or below the above defined reporting thresholds will be accepted, but are not required. In other words, submitting a TPOC amount below the mandatory reporting thresholds will no longer generate an error code by CMS.

The entire content of the official Alert from CMS can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert please contact Tower MSA Partners’ Chief Compliance Officer, Dan Anders, at Daniel.anders@towermsa.com or (847) 946-2880.

Tower MSA Partnership with American Airlines and PRIUM Yields Legacy Claim Settlements

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Tower MSA Partners

In a widely acclaimed presentation at the recent 2016 National Workers Compensation and Disability Conference, Jennifer Saddy, Workers’ Compensation Director for American Airlines and Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of PRIUM, detailed the successful cooperation among American, PRIUM and Tower MSA to reduce pharmacy costs, litigation referrals and Medicare Set Aside costs ultimately leading to significant claim settlements.  Tower MSA is grateful to Jennifer and Mark for highlighting how Tower MSA’s Identification, Intervention and Involvement services were a key contribution to the success of this legacy claim reduction program.
 
For more information on American’s program please read the Risk & Insurance article Make a Decision and Move the Needle: American Airlines needed to take aggressive action to resolve 6,000 lingering workers’ compensation claims.

For more information on Tower MSA’s legacy claim reduction services please contact us at 888.331.4941 or info@towermsa.com.

Selecting the Right MSP Compliance Service Provider

Posted on June 30, 2016 by Tower MSA Partners

Please take a moment to read Michael Stack’s article outlining qualities needed in selecting the right MSP compliance service provider.. Medicare Secondary Payer compliance is complicated and penalties can be high. There are a lot of components – Section 111 reporting, Conditional Payments, medical and pharmaceutical interventions, legal interventions, and Medicare Set Aside (MSA) preparation.

Typically these various activities are handled in silos, and time lags and errors can occur during the transfer to the next step. It’s easy to miss a data field or deadline.

In his article, Stack notes that:

“Effective MSP compliance includes a service provider that goes beyond the basics. These providers will offer services that allow members of the claim management team to focus on their job and provide information and resources to comply with Medicare regulations in workers’ compensation claims.”

Tower recognizes that Section 111, Conditional Payments, pre-MSA Triage, all interventions, and MSA preparation through CMS acceptance should occur in a continuous, unbroken process. That’s why we developed an all-inclusive MSP Automation Suite around compliance best practices. Our MSP Automation Suite drives the entire compliance process, automatically updates clients of each activity on the file, escalates medical and pharmacy issues, prompts for interventions and much more.

Claims close faster, quality and accuracy are assured and our clients enjoy smooth settlements. To learn more, contact us at info@TowerMSA.com or 888-331-4941.

 

Related posts on compliance:

Tower’s Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Compliance Countdown

The Year in MSP Compliance (2019)

How Do You Know Your MSP Compliance Data is Secure?

 

Opioids in the Life of the MSA… Coming Soon

Posted on June 10, 2016 by Rita Wilson

In a statement released on June 7, 2016, the National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals (NAMSAP) announced the 2nd in a series of webinars focused on opioid drugs in the Medicare Set Aside.  The release can be found at NAMSAP Presents “Opioids in the Life of the MSA” Webinar on June 21

 Background

Since the creation of NAMSAP’s Evidence Based Medicine Committee in 2014, opioid use has been in the forefront of attention within NAMSAP.  As a member of NAMSAP’s Board of Directors, I have participated in our organization’s efforts to collaborate with experts on this critical issue, to educate our members as to what is happening when opioid involved MSAs are reviewed by CMS, and now to advocate to entities outside of workers’ compensation.

Our goal is to publicize the conflict between the WCMSA review process and  CMS’s own criteria for opioid addiction triggers, prior authorization requirements and mandatory weaning.   This release explains the rationale and basis for our request: NAMSAP has called for CMS to limit opioids in the MSA review;

The easy answer

Many say the answer to the inconsistencies in the WCMSA review process as it relates to opioids is to stop submitting the MSA to CMS.  “Why feed into a broken system?” is the question I’ve heard.  If opioids aren’t appropriate for life expectancy, if addiction is imminent, if weaning is appropriate, then include this in the MSA and just don’t submit.

I absolutely endorse CMS non-submission as an option.  Where I may differ from others is that I believe it should be decided based on the facts of the case as compared to the objective and subjective nature of CMS’s review and approval process.  Unfortunately, I fear a corporate non-submit strategy is a slippery slope down the path of massaging the MSA to ‘fit’ the needs of the moment.  That is not its intent of the MSA, nor will it be left unchallenged in the long term.

What if?

I believe the prevalence of opioids in workers’ compensation indicates something is broken, but the break is much further up the food chain.  Can and should CMS ‘fix’ a problem that we have allowed and enabled over the life of the claim?  Can an excise tax on opioids fix the problem?

What if we looked at things differently?

  • What if we identify the physicians who don’t write for opioids as first line treatment for pain?
  •  What if we know and use the physicians with a proven track record of getting patients back to work
  •  What if we implement triggers to identify initial onset and changes in opioid dosage and frequency?
  • What if an increase in Morphine Equivalent Dosage was measured and addressed immediately with the physician?
  •  What if we leverage PBM reports and tools to block opioids based  on corporate designated criteria, and then execute an action plan?
  •  What if we use jurisdictional options like UR, IMR, challenging treatment to force dispute resolution and state options to allow the carrier to control physician choice where these options exist?

What if?

Working both sides

Every company has its own strategies to address the opioid issue.  Our policy at Tower is to ask every ‘what if‘ question possible as we work with clients throughout the claim and settlement process.  Whatever the answer, whether it’s physician follow up to track weaning, a formal physician peer review to challenge inappropriate treatment, or negotiating a Conditional Payment Notice to dissociate unrelated treatment, our MSP Automation Suite drives and tracks every step in the process.  We push the claim to optimize outcomes and acknowledge when the MSA is ‘ready‘ to submit.

The result of the combined efforts of all stakeholders in workers’ compensation, according the WCRI report on opioids released on June 9, 2016 is that the industry has made positive strides to address opioid issues.  Now NAMSAP is challenging CMS to modify the WCMSA review criteria so that it more closely mirrors its own Part D approvals process.

I hope you will join the webinar as we look at the policy side of the opioid issue within the MSA and that you join our advocacy efforts.

 

CMS to ‘Consider’ Expanding Its Review Process to Include Liability MSAs

Posted on June 10, 2016 by Rita Wilson

compliance-regulations-guidelines

In a News Alert released Thursday, June 9, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced is considering expanding its voluntary Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements (MSA) amount review process to include the review of proposed liability insurance (including self-insurance) and no-fault insurance MSA amounts. CMS plans to work closely with the stakeholder community to identify how best to implement this potential expansion. CMS will provide future announcements of the proposal and expects to schedule town hall  meetings later this year.

The link to the alert can be found in the ‘What’s New’ section of the Medicare Coordination of Benefits and Recovery Overview page at CMS.gov.

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery/Coordination-of-Benefits-and-Recovery-Overview/Whats-New/Whats-New.html

Background

Signed in June, 1980,

42 U.S.C. §1395y(2)(A)) prohibits Medicare from making payment, except as provided in (B), for any item or service, to the extent that payment has been made, or can reasonably be expected to be made, under a workers’ compensation law or plan, an automobile or liability insurance policy or plan (including a self-insured plan), or no fault insurance.

42 U.S.C. §1395y(2)(B) – The Secretary may make payment under this title with respect to an item or service if a primary plan as described in Subparagraph (A) has not made or cannot reasonably be expected to make payment with respect to such item or service promptly. Any such payment shall be conditioned on reimbursement to the appropriate Trust Fund in accordance with the succeeding provisions of this subsection.

While statutory provisions included Liability cases, there were no LMSA guidelines .  As a result, actions taken to comply with the MSPA statutes in a Liability case ranged from extremely conservative to strategies that earned the LMSA environment its characterization as ‘The Wild West’.  Those who took the conservative route followed the CMS guidelines established for WCMSA.  Other strategies ranged from making the LMSA decisions based on the severity of the injury in a liability case to doing nothing.

CMS’s Review of LMSAs

With no established thresholds for CMS submission and review, those who took the conservative path followed WCMSA guidance and attempted to submit.  While certain of the CMS offices would review an LMSA, acceptance was random.  Eventually, with greater acceptance and use of the WCMSA portal, CMS began to reject LMSAs.  Submitters could make the effort to submit and obtain a letter of rejection.

While not a ‘safe harbor’, the attempt to submit was at least evidence of efforts to follow the guidelines.

CMS’s first attempt to address LMSAs

In June 2012, CMS began the process by releasing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (CMS-6047-ANPRM) to solicit public comment on how to implement an MSP process for liability settlements.  The ANPRM received many public comments.

On August 1, 2013, CMS sent the NPRM to the OMB for their approval.  The NPRM was never made public because the OMB did not approve it, and on 10/8/2014, this last attempt at  ‘guidance’ surrounding Liability MSAs faded into the sunset whenCMS withdrew the NPRM.   The reasons for the OMB’s rejection of the proposal were never made public.

Where are we now?

With the Liability TPOC mandatory reporting threshold of $1,000 beginning January 1, 2015 (and the voluntary threshold of $300), the BCRC now has access to more data on Liability claims than ever.  And with the announcement of the CRC (Commercial Repayment Center) in October, 2015, and its singular focus on payer recovery, the BCRC has greater resources to pursue recovery with Liability settlements.  With this combination of information and resources, it would follow that the absence of documented evidence to show that Medicare’s interests have been considered when settling a liability claim might lead to financial exposure for all stakeholders in the process…. the perfect time to introduce ‘guidance’ for the LMSA.

Tower will continue to monitor associated news on this topic and will actively participate in the TownHall Meetings regarding this topic.

For Media Inquires, Contact:

Helen King Patterson
813.690.4787
helen@kingknight.com

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