Thursday, June 17, 2010

Asbestos Exposure Claims (Cont. from 6/11/10)

If the last know exposure is prior to December 5, 1980, is the plaintiff required to notify CMS?

See answer below. If the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney can show, by uncontroverted evidence that the last date of exposure occurred on or before the effective date of the MSP statute (Dec. 5, 1980), Medicare does not have a right of reimbursement, and the RRE does not have a duty to report. However, we have advised both parties to settlement that "wordsmithing" will not remove a duty where one exists, so plaintiffs have to be ready to stand by their screening process, and defendants must be able to reasonably rely on that process if they are to take the position no reporting need occur.

Answer: Provided you have a formalized screening process designed to prove the last date of exposure occurred on or before December 4, 1980, a Responsible Reporting Entity will not have a reporting obligation under the MMSEA. Medicare may have a recovery claim only where there was asbestos exposure on or after the effective date of the MSP statute, December 5, 1980. Medicare's claim would be for all Medicare reimbursed services on or after December 5, 1980, which are related to the liability settlement, judgment, or payment. Medicare's recovery claim is based upon specific Medicare reimbursed services rather than some percentage of the liability settlement, judgment, or payment. Further, Medicare has stated in liability recoveries, (but not Workers Compensation), that "If the asbestos exposure ended before December 5, 1980, Medicare will not pursue recoveries from asbestos liability settlements, since the MSP liability provisions were not effective until that date." However, please note that once a post-1980 exposure date is determined, Medicare requires that exposure claims are submitted based on the "date of first exposure."

Sylvius von Saucken, Esq.