Medicare Set-asides can take time, money and valuable resources in the claim settlement process. Partnering with experts makes both financial and logistical sense to get your claims settled that much faster, and for the lowest cost.
Taking a proactive approach and truly engaging with your MSP vendor will help limit the costs and time to create the best possible MSA.
Strengthening your relationship with your MSP provider requires you to become involved, rather than taking a back seat and expecting the vendor to do it all. Here are actions that will help:
Provide Complete Information
An accurate, defensible MSA report is dependent on the availability of all pertinent information and documentation. You don’t want to delay the process by having to revise the report because of missing information. While the MSA company may be able to access your claim system for relevant records, there may be older records and legal documents in a different system. At the time of referral the following information should be provided:
- Complete referral form
- Claim payment history
- Two years of medical records for each
- Accepted and denied body parts
- Multiple dates of injury settling
- Court orders and rulings
Read and Heed the Report
In addition to a projected dollar amount, the MSA report should include the basis for the number along with recommendations on ways to reduce the allocation and streamline the process. Failing to read through the report and follow the recommendations is wasting your money. For example, there may be suggestions to
- Clarify ongoing medication use
- Address open-ended treatment
- Implement an action plan to reduce high opioid or other medication use
The vendor may have services that can address these and other issues that will better ensure CMS approval. Also, the report may include unintentional oversights or a misinterpretation of the records. Since you know the details of the claim better, it makes sense to read through the report and question anything that you don’t understand.
Allow for Intervention
Missing medical reports, open-ended medication recommendations, and inconsistent physician statements are among the many hurdles that can increase the allocation or stall the approval process. The MSA vendor should provide an intervention plan to address any such issues that arise before the MSA report is completed and submitted to CMS. You should authorize the company to move forward with the plan and to meet with any attorneys involved if necessary.
Work with the Compliance Team
A couple of questions are best left to attorneys, such as whether an MSA is even necessary and, if so, how state statutes, regulations or case law may affect the preparation and submission of the MSA. MSP vendors typically work with attorneys who are experts in MSP compliance. They can show you various tactics to limit the allocation amount. To do so, you need to provide the vendor with information on accepted and denied body parts along with relevant court orders, rulings or depositions.
Agree to Escalation
A claims professional who neglects to respond to a recommendation from the vendor can create problems getting CMS approval. Conversely, the MSA vendor’s front-line personnel may not be giving you the information you need. Both you and the vendor should agree to have an escalation process in place. This will allow the vendor to bring the recommendation to a supervisor or manager, and lets you talk with a key contact at the vendor’s office to get a complete picture of any issues that must be addressed.
Task Vendor as Gatekeeper
If your organization has many legacy or other claims that have been open for a while, you may want to conduct a settlement initiative. This typically involves many parties; such as defense attorneys, structured settlement brokers, professional administrator and a medical case manager. Have the MSA vendor act as the gatekeeper for this, by coordinating MSA development, clinical intervention, and CMS submission. That frees up the claims handler and defense attorney to focus on settlement negotiations and finalization.
Include the Vendor in Finalization
The settlement terms must be consistent with CMS guidelines, including the proper inclusion of the MSA and defining Medicare conditional payment resolution. Also, CMS requires the MSA company to submit final, court-approved, settlement documents to make the approved MSA effective. Your defense attorney should, therefore, work with the MSP compliance team to avoid any problems later.
Monitor Performance Metrics
You want to make sure your partnership with the MSA vendor continues to be successful and correct any areas that need improvement. The vendor should be able to provide performance metrics, such as
- The number of MSA referrals
- The turnaround time to write the MSA report
- The CMS approval rate
- Percentage of MSAs with prescription medications
- Cost savings as a result of interventions
- Percentage of MSAs with Development Letters from CMS
MSAs are complicated and can be expensive and time-consuming. Partnering with the right experts and staying involved with them can get you to a less costly settlement sooner.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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