Personal Injury Law Firms through out the United States must hold funds from personal injury settlements or risk civil claims from the government regarding Unpaid Medicare Debts
If anyone doubts that Medicare is serious about recovering its lien, this should prove to be informative:
Submitted by New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Philadelphia-Based Personal Injury Law Firm Agrees to Resolve Allegations of Unpaid Medicare Debts
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that a Philadelphia-based personal injury law firm, Simon & Simon, P.C., has entered into a settlement agreement with the United States to resolve allegations that it failed to reimburse the United States for certain Medicare payments. The government had made these payments to medical providers for the firm’s clients.
The government’s investigation arose under the Social Security Act’s Medicare Secondary Payer provisions. This law authorizes Medicare, as a secondary payer, to make conditional payments for medical items or services under certain circumstances. When an injured person receives a settlement or judgment, Medicare regulations require entities who receive the settlement or judgment proceeds, such as the injured person’s attorney, to repay Medicare within 60 days for its conditional payments. If Medicare does not receive timely repayment, these regulations permit the government to recover the conditional payments from the injured person’s attorney and anyone else who received the settlement or judgment proceeds.
The government alleged that at various points between 2014 and 2019, Medicare made conditional payments to healthcare providers to satisfy medical bills of eight of the firm’s clients. Although Medicare demanded that Simon & Simon repay the resulting Medicare debts, the firm allegedly failed to do so.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Simon & Simon agreed to pay a lump sum of $6,604.59. The firm also agreed to (1) name a person responsible for paying Medicare secondary payer debts; (2) train the employee to ensure that the firm pays these debts on a timely basis; (3) review any additional outstanding debts to ensure compliance; and (4) provide written certifications of compliance. In addition, Simon & Simon acknowledged that any failure to submit timely repayment of Medicare secondary payer debt may result in liability for the wrongful retention of a government overpayment under the False Claims Act.
The resolution here follows a similar one against Rosenbaum & Associates, a Philadelphia personal injury firm that settled with the United States in 2018. When an attorney fails to reimburse Medicare, the United States can recover from the attorney-even if the attorney already gave the money to the client. Congress enacted these provisions to ensure that Medicare receives timely reimbursement for its conditional payments.
“This settlement agreement should remind personal injury lawyers and others of their obligation to reimburse Medicare when they receive settlement or judgment proceeds for their clients,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Lawyers need to set a good example and follow the rules of the road for Medicare reimbursement. If they don’t, we will move aggressively to recover the money for taxpayers.”
There has been no determination of civil liability. The settled civil claims are allegations only.
The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Macko, acting upon a referral from Eric S. Wolfish, Assistant Regional Counsel for the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the General Counsel, Region III.
W. Robb Graham