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Slight Medicare Reform: Help Us Help You

One of the most frustrating parts of our work is dealing with Medicare.  When Medicare pays for accident victims’ medical care,  the victims have to pay Medicare back for that care out of any settlement or verdict.  But it can be an almost impossible tak finding out (1) how much Medicare claims it paid and is owed, and (2) negotiating with Medicare for a settlement.  For example, I recently resolved a case for a very nice client with Medicare.  The case settled in July 2009 pending a deal with Medicare.  At that time, I wrote Medicare and asked Medicare to provide the amount it claimed it was owed and inquiring whether we could resolve the claim.  Not to bore you with details, but Medicare finally provided a final number tha it would accept in March 2010.  Despite the fact that the case was settled, our client had to wait an additional nine months before we could work with Medicare and finally resolve those issues.  That is just not acceptable.

Fortunately, there may be help on the horizon.    HR 4796, the Medicare Secondary Payer Enhancement Act of 2010, is winding its way through Congress.  The bill would require Medicare to provide lien amounts within 60 days of a request.  It also provides that each request would be accompanied by a $30 application fee so there is no bottom-line cost to the taxpayer.

You can help make this bill law by  asking your congressman here.  Our firm and our clients would thank you.

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- Sara Hickman