Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Small Claims Settlements

Posted by Mary Skinner

I have a small claim that was settled by letter and negotiations. There were no legal documents filed. Does Medicare need to be notified?

Thank you in advance.

Michigan Attorney

Yes, any settlement that involves a Medicare beneficiary must be reported and Medicare's interest protected.

Section 42 CFR 411.23 states that a beneficiary must cooperate in any action taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in recovering conditional payments. Failure to do so or not protecting the Medicare program during and after settlement negotiations may result in CMS taking action against the beneficiary to collect the mistaken payment.
In the event that reimbursement is not made to Medicare as required by 42 USC 1395y(b)(2)(B)(I), action may be brought against any entity responsible for payment (and may collect double damages from insurance companies), or any entity that has received a third-party settlement. Under 42 CFR 411.24(g), this includes attorneys whose fees are paid from settlement proceeds. Please refer to US v. Sosnowski, et. al. where judgment was entered against a beneficiary and his attorney for failing to reimburse Medicare after receiving settlement proceeds on a personal injury case.

CMS has a direct right of action to recover its payments from any entity, including a beneficiary, provider, supplier, physician, attorney, State agency, or a private insurer that has received a third party payment, 42 CFR 411.24.

In addition, Medicare has the authority to refer non-collectible debts over to the United States Department of Treasury for possible offset of a beneficiary's benefits.

The regulations regarding Medicare's right to reimbursement on conditional overpayments in liability situations can be found under 42 CFR s411.23, 411.24,411.26,411.37,411.50,411.52, and 411.54. It is important to note at this point that "liability insurance" means insurance (including a self-insured pan) that provides payment based on legal liability for injury or illness or damage to property. It includes, but is not limited to automobile liability insurance, uninsured motorist insurance, underinsured motorist insurance, homeowners' liability insurance, malpractice insurance, product liability insurance and general casualty insurance. These regulations also established that Medicare would be secondary to no-fault insurance, which is defined as "insurance that pays for medical expenses for injuries sustained on the property or premises of the insured." This insurance includes, but is not limited to automobile, homeowners, and commercial plans. This insurance is sometimes called "medical payments coverage", "personal injury protection", or "medical expense coverage". 42 CFR ss411.50

Hope this is helpful, Mary Skinner