4-Step Strategy to Successfully Settle Workers’ Comp Claims

Getting to a settlement can and should be a win-win for both payers and the injured worker. While most injured workers recover and return to work as expected, some stay in the system far longer than anticipated. Aside from catastrophic injuries, closing these ‘legacy’ claims can be extremely challenging.

 

It may seem impossible to move claims that have been on the books for months or years. But the expense to the payer and the inability of the injured worker to move on with his life are not in the best interests of anyone. Instead, stakeholders can reach settlements on these claims by partnering with the right experts and following best practices.

 

 

Understanding the Barriers

 

Empathizing with the injured worker is one of, if not the most important elements to settling claims. Claims managers, faced with a plethora of cases day in and day out, may lose sight of what’s actually going on in the mind of the employee. What they and other stakeholders need to understand is the driving force that keeps some injured workers in the system long-term; fear.

 

  • Fear of running out of money
  • Fear of having to navigate the healthcare system alone
  • Fear of having no support, from a claims adjuster, nurse case manager, attorney and anyone else who’s been involved with the claim

 

While in the system, the worker’s medical bills are automatically paid, they have a steady stream of money through indemnity payments, and they don’t have to haggle with providers over money. Once they leave the system, that all goes away. Stakeholders can have much more success settling claims by looking at the situation from the injured worker’s point of view.

 

Settling long-term claims is complex, as there are many moving parts. An adjuster trying to settle a claim on their own could be overwhelmed, as they would need an in-depth understanding of these and many other issues. That’s why a team approach is imperative to reach more settlements with injured workers.

 

 

The Team

 

The circumstances of the claim and the injured worker will help determine who should be included on the settlement team. The team should consist of:

 

  • Claims Adjuster. The claims adjuster is the backbone of the claims handling team who leverages the expertise of various settlement team members to both ease their workload and settle claims more effectively.

 

  • Employer. The employer owns the relationship with the injured worker and is an integral part of maintaining communication, rapport, and a connection to the workplace. The working employer-employee relationship will also provide insight into the desires, hopes, and dreams of the injured worker to help create a win-win settlement plan.

 

  • Settlement advisor. Structured settlements can offer significant benefits over lump sums. They are tax-free, periodic payments that are placed with a highly-rated life insurance company. Research has shown that recipients of lump sums often go through the money much faster than expected. Structured settlements help ensure there will be money throughout the person’s lifetime, and even beyond. These also offer flexibility in terms of how they are paid and how much.

 

  • MSA vendor. The Medicare Secondary Payer Act requires that Medicare not pay for coverage that should be the responsibility of a primary payer, which includes workers’ compensation. In addition to workers who already receive Medicare benefits, other workers may also need an MSA. The government has established certain thresholds that determine whether a person who is not currently on Medicare may qualify within a certain timeframe.

 

The MSA vendor can help

 

    • Determine if an MSA is necessary
    • Develop the MSA in a way that it can be effectively used for settlement
    • Seek approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

 

  • Professional administrator. Professional administration is a post-settlement support system for the injured worker. It fills the void left by the disappearance of all other stakeholders once the case has settled. Professional administrators can help manage the funds, ensure compliance with MSA requirements, and may offer network discounts for medical providers, treatments and medications.

 

  • A defense attorney who has been involved in the claim can be a valuable part of the team, as this person may be able to provide information and documentation, and communicate with the injured worker.

 

  • Medical advisor. In addition to determining whether prescribed medications and treatments are appropriate for the injured worker’s condition, this person can also ensure that any diagnoses are correct. They may also be able to identify brand-name medications that could instead be generics, and determine if prescribed opioids are necessary and, if so, for how long.

 

 

4-Step Process

 

Once the team is established, it can begin the process of getting to settlements with injured workers. Four best practices have been shown to be highly effective.

 

  1. Identify claims for settlement early.

 

Determine the trigger points of claims that are ripe for settlement. Among them are those in which the injured worker is:

 

  • Physically stable and has consistent medical treatments and prescriptions. An injured worker with upcoming surgery would not be a good candidate for settlement, as the costs may be extremely variable.
  • Extremely frustrated, with denials for treatment and/or independent medical exams
  • Fearful about running out of money, losing his support system, and dealing with Medicare and the MSA reporting requirements

 

 

  1. Engage the team.

 

Typically, the settlement advisor is the point person to move things forward. This person can reach out to the other team members to gain their input on whether the injured worker is appropriate for settlement talks. The advisor can provide and/or obtain information from vendors and other team members such as:

 

  • Medical history
  • Attorney representation
  • Prescription drug cost projections from Professional Administrator
  • Clinical/pharmacy review of the treatment plan
  • Pre-MSA triage talks from MSA Vendor

 

 

  1. Conduct roundtable discussions with the team to leverage settlement best practices.

 

Building trusted relationships and working together can help the team brainstorm on the various issues involved and determine how best to approach the injured worker, either directly or through his attorney. This stage involves soft tactics as well as technical tactics.

 

Soft tactics include discussing the worker’s fears, concerns and desires. Technical tactics include such things as gathering documents and information for settlement projections or a MSA, and pricing out future medical treatment and prescription costs. These conversations should also include a look at the post-settlement life of the injured worker and ongoing support, especially through a professional administrator.

 

 

  1. Negotiate the lowest reasonable settlement amount.

 

Once the team has discussed a plan, as well as a settlement amount, conversations with the injured worker can begin.  The discussions should include all the options and fees involved, such as the approximate $1,000 fee for a professional administrator.

 

The discussions leading up to the negotiations should be such that all are in agreement that the plan will adequately provide for the injured worker’s life, and is realistic to the payer. Therefore, emotion can be removed from the case.

 

 

Summary

 

Injured workers who are unnecessarily still in the workers’ compensation system will agree to settlements if they can see that the amount of money and ongoing support are appropriate. Gaining an understanding of the injured worker’s thinking and working with the right experts can help payers move claims to settlement.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

CMS Expands MSA Amended Reviews & Modifies Consents To Release In Updated Reference Guide

CMS recently released Version 3.0 of its WCMSA Reference Guide, what we informally call the “MSA bible.”  The reference guide provides most CMS policy and procedures relating to its review of Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Asides.

 

The updated guide can be found here.

 

Notable additions or changes to this version are detailed below with takeaways and comments.

 

 

Amended Review Criteria Expanded to Six Years

 

CMS has expanded the Amended Review MSA lookback from one to four years to one to six years post the prior MSA approval.  As a refresher, the Amended Review process in Section 16.2 allows a new MSA to be submitted following a prior approval if all of the following criteria are met:

 

  • CMS has issued a conditional approval/approved amount at least 12 but no more than 72 months prior,
  • The case has not yet settled as of the date of the request for re-review.
  • Projected care has changed so much that the submitter’s new proposed amount would result in a 10% or $10,000 change (whichever is greater) in CMS’ previously approved amount.

 

Tower appreciates CMS expanding the lookback to six years as this should allow for more cases to be submitted through this process and potentially settle with an MSA that better reflects the claimant’s current and future course of treatment.  If your case may meet this criteria, please contact Tower to review and determine the feasibility of submitting an Amended Review MSA.

 

 

Claimant Authorization to Submit Added to Consent to Release Form

 

Longstanding policy requires any MSA submitted to CMS must include a Consent to Release form signed by the claimant.  The primary purpose of the document is to provide Medicare beneficiary authorization for CMS to communicate with the MSA submitter concerning the workers’ compensation claim.

 

Per the updated reference guide, effective 4/1/2020 a consent must include the following language:

 

Further, I have had the Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement need and process explained to me, and I approve of the contents of the submission.

Beneficiary Initials: ____

 

As a result of the addition of this statement, CMS is effectively asking the claimant to approve the MSA along with supporting documents in the submission.  We anticipate two consequences as a result of this addition:

 

  • Claimants will sign the consent but forget to initial this section.
  • Claimants will not sign the consent until such time as they review the MSA and perhaps the supporting documentation, i.e. medical records, which are submitted with the MSA.

 

While we understand CMS wanting to ensure the claimant understands the purpose of the MSA, we would assert this is already effectively done, in most cases, as part of the settlement process.

 

At this time, Tower will continue to use the Consent to Release without the requirement that the claimant approve the MSA submission.  However, we will need to begin using the revised consent as we get closer to 4/1/2020.

 

 

Submission of Annual Attestations through the WCMSAP

 

As we previously discussed in CMS Adds Electronic Submission Option for MSA Attestations, CMS is now allowing MSA self and professional administrators to submit annual attestations through the Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Portal (WCMSAP).  Section 11.1.1. of the guide was updated to reflect the addition of this feature and a new Section 17.6 “Electronic Attestations” was added which directs both MSA self and professional administrators to the WCMSAP User Guide for further information on submitting annual attestations electronically.

 

 

Policies Added to Address Opioid Epidemic

 

CMS has been very active in the past two years at addressing the opioid epidemic among its Medicare beneficiaries.  The exception to this has largely been the MSA program.

 

In an effort to address opioids in MSA CMS added the following statement to section 17.1 on MSA administrators:

 

CMS highly recommends professional administration where a claimant is taking controlled substances that CMS determines are “frequently abused drugs” according to CMS’ Part D Drug Utilization Review (DUR) policy. That policy and supporting information are available on the web at https://cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovContra/RxUtilization.html.

 

CMS takes this further in Section 17.3 by stating:

 

CMS expects that WCMSA funds be competently administered in accordance with all Medicare coverage guidelines, including but not limited to CMS’ Part D Drug Utilization Review (DUR) policy. As a result, all WCMSA administration programs should institute Drug Management Programs (DMPs) (as described at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-04-16/pdf/2018-07179.pdf) for claimants at risk for abuse or misuse of “frequently abused drugs.”

 

While MSA professional administration is recommended for most MSAs, CMS is correct in asserting it is of special value for a claimant utilizing opioid medications.  MSA professional administrators like our partner, Ametros, can readily provide the type of drug management program expected by CMS.  We applaud CMS for implementing these guidelines addressing opioid use in MSAs.

 

If you have any questions regarding theses MSA updates, please contact Tower’s Chief Compliance Officer, Dan Anders, at (888) 331-4941 or daniel.anders@towermsa.com.

 

 

 

Author Dan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, Tower MSA Partners. Dan oversees the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance program. In this position, he is responsible for ensuring the integrity and quality of the MSA program and other MSP compliance services and products. Based upon his more than a decade of experience in working with employers, insurers, TPAs, attorneys and claimants, Dan provides education and consultation to Tower MSA clients on all aspects of MSP compliance. Contact: ((888) 331-4941 or daniel.anders@towermsa.com

How to Control the 5 Variables that Impact MSA Amounts and Approvals

How to Control the 5 Variables that Impact MSA Amounts and ApprovalsWhen is the right time to get a Medicare Set-Aside? What medical information is needed? And what can you do to expedite the CMS approval process?

 

These questions plague any organization trying to settle workers’ compensation claims with injured workers who are or soon will be eligible for Medicare. But understanding when, how and why MSAs are most appropriate allows payers to work proactively with an MSA vendor to reach settlements that are in the best interests of all parties involved.

 

Anne Alabach, the Workers’ Compensation Department Manager of CPC Logistics, joins Daniel Anders, Chief Compliance Officer at Tower MSA Partners to discuss Achieving Great Outcomes with Your MSA Vendor during the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo next month at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

 

The session will focus on the key indicators to determine success or need for improvement, ways to leverage partner relationships to drive down unneeded MSA costs, and variables that can significantly affect the amounts of MSAs as well as approval times from the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS).

 

 

Prime Variables

 

There are a variety of factors that go into developing an MSA. There is not necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ amount. What’s important is that the injured worker has enough money to pay for his injury-related medical expenses throughout his life, and the payer is not incurring irrelevant and/or unnecessary costs.

 

In addition to meeting the threshold for needing an MSA, injured workers should be at maximum medical improvement before one is even considered. An employee who’s about to undergo surgery or a change in medications is not at the point where an MSA should be developed.

 

Instead, it is most appropriate when the worker’s condition has stabilized.

 

The variables that should be considered to achieve the most suitable MSA include:

 

  1. Time
  2. Documentation
  3. Legal
  4. Medical
  5. CMS MSA Review

 

 

Timing of the MSA

 

Time is of the essence — unless it’s not the right time for an MSA. As described above, prior to MMI is the wrong time to establish an MSA. Changes in treatment or services will undoubtedly mean new medications or procedures will be needed, at least in the short term. The MSA should, instead, be developed when there is a reasonably strong chance the person’s medical requirements won’t vary much going forward. CMS’ MSA review program is actually designed for the injured worker who is already at MMI.

 

However, MMI does not necessarily indicate all medications and other medical needs are appropriate; far from it. For example, medical records for the injured worker may include a medication that was prescribed just one time, months or years ago. It is not uncommon to see medications included in the MSA that the injured worker doesn’t even remember taking.

 

Uncovering those types of issues is invaluable in reducing unnecessary costs from the MSA. Talking with the MSA vendor about the injured worker’s current situation may reveal clinical interventions that place the case in a more favorable position.

 

Also, there may be case-specific recommendations based on jurisdictional issues and opportunities that would change the MSA amount. Working with a qualified MSA vendor can lead to major changes in MSA costs.

 

 

The Right Documents

 

Workers’ compensation stakeholders are often frustrated by delays in the CMS approval process. While some of the blame may fall on the agency, it is often the result of insufficient or inconsistent information provided. “An MSA is only as good as the information it is based upon,” according to Anders. Failing to give accurate and complete information may result in letters from CMS and errors in the MSA amount.

 

“Put yourself in CMS’ shoes,” Anders advised. That means to obtain and provide recent treatment records, or an explanation as to why those documents do not exist. Also, contradictory recommendations need to be corrected. The MSA vendor can ensure the right documentation is provided and is properly filled out.

 

 

Legal & Medical Issues

 

There may be legal justification to exclude or limit medical care in the MSA. Working closely with the MSA vendor can identify those issues.

 

Physician peer review, clinical oversight, and physician follow-up are the types of interventions that are critical in creating MSAs. Every aspect of the injured worker’s future medical needs must be explored, by obtaining and analyzing his past medical care. Inappropriate care that may be huge cost drivers should be singled out and eliminated where possible, while still ensuring the injured worker’s care is optimized.

 

Date of injury, accepted and denied dates of injury and body parts, compensable injuries, & diagnosis codes are just a few of the many things that must be considered.

 

 

CMS Review

 

Gaining CMS approval for the MSA, while not required by law, is often a best practice. The outcomes of these reviews are largely predictable — once the process is well understood.

 

Correctly following the guidelines in the CMS WCMSA Reference Guide, using the correct pricing in fee schedules and recognizing statutory limitations are a few of the factors that can lead to CMS approval.

 

Certain metrics identified in the MSA preparation and submission process can allow reverse engineering to correctly allocate the MSA and identify obstacles to settlement. An experienced MSA vendor can help pinpoint and analyze metrics to get CMS approval as quickly as possible.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Creating an MSA can be tedious, painstaking work, especially for those whose jobs are not solely focused on them. Those MSAs that gain quicker approval from CMS and are properly funded are developed by payers working in conjunction with MSA vendor partners who have the skills to carefully look at a myriad of factors that impact the injured worker and his medical needs.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Terminate ‘Ongoing Responsibility for Medicare’ (ORM) or Invite Big Problems

terminate ORMThe famed University of Alabama head coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant said, “when you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.”  These wise words are particularly applicable to termination of Ongoing Responsibility for Medicals (ORM) in the Medicare Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting process.  Failure to properly report ORM termination can yield unnecessary Medicare conditional payment demands, costing time and expense to resolve.  When such an error is made, admit it to CMS, correct it, and learn from the experience so it is not repeated.

 

 

Background on ORM Reporting

 

Since October 5, 2015, the CRC has had responsibility for the recovery of conditional payments where the insurer or employer (including self-insured entities) is the identified debtor, known in CMS terms as the “applicable plan.” The CRC learns of opportunities to recover through the Section 111 Mandatory Insurer Reporting process. In other words, the applicable plan’s reporting is the catalyst for Medicare conditional payment recovery.

 

The mandatory reporting provisions of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act require the applicable plan to report to Medicare in three instances – the acceptance of ORM, the termination of ORM and issuance of a Total Payment Obligation to the Claimant (TPOC), settlement judgment, award or other payment.

 

 

ORM Termination Key to Cutting Off Liability to Medicare

 

Once ORM is accepted, CMS claims the right to recover against the applicable plan through the date of ORM termination. That means CRC’s recovery efforts may happen years after the ORM was first reported. Further, if the applicable plan fails to terminate ORM when appropriate, then the plan may receive CRC repayment demands for time periods in which it has no liability to pay for medical treatment.

 

Accordingly, terminating ORM when appropriate is vital to cutting off liability to Medicare.  An applicable plan may terminate ORM through the Section 111 Reporting process under the following situations:

 

  • Settlement with a release of medicals
  • No-fault policy limit reached
  • Complete denial of the claim
  • Statute of limitations has run, or medical benefits have otherwise been exhausted pursuant to state law
  • Judicial determination after a hearing on the merits finds no liability
  • Signed statement from the injured individual’s treating physician that the injured party will require no further medical items or services associated with the claim related injuries.

 

Providing CMS with the ORM termination date gives a bookend to recovery by the CRC. If no termination date is provided, then CRC assumes the applicable plan remains liable for injury-related payments indefinitely.

 

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation claims systems do not always prompt the submitter when a settlement amount is entered to confirm whether ORM is also being terminated.  As a result, the TPOC amount and date are reported to CMS, ORM remains at a “Y,” and the ORM termination date is left blank.  This not treated as an error when CMS processes the submission as CMS allows for multiple TPOC amounts.

 

Consequently, unreported ORM termination dates can continue for years, and the RRE may only become aware of the oversight only when a conditional payment notice is received for the previously settled claim.

 

 

Case Study (provided by Tower MSA)

 

Tower’s client received a Medicare Conditional Payment Notice and then a demand from the CRC in the amount of $125,554.  A review of the demand revealed many of the charges related to the injury which would typically present a challenge to requesting their removal from the demand.  However, all the dates of service itemized in the demand were after the settlement date of 8/5/2014.

 

Upon further investigation it was learned that while a TPOC or settlement date of 8/5/2014 had been reported, ORM termination had not (Tower was not the Section 111 reporting agent for this client).  Consequently, the CRC assumed that the primary plan was still accepting medical on the claim and asserted a demand for recovery of conditional payments.

 

Our client updated their Section 111 report with the correct termination date, and Tower was able to obtain CRC’s agreement to withdraw the demand.

 

In the end, our client was fortunately not held liable for repayment of $125,554 to Medicare. Nonetheless, the error of not reporting ORM termination concurrently with TPOC took several months to resolve.

 

 

Key Takeaway: Training, quality assurance and a reliable reporting agent are critical to avoiding ORM reporting errors.

 

  • Train Adjusters on ORM Reporting: If an adjuster is responsible for inserting the data required for ORM reporting, then they require training as to when ORM acceptance and termination should be reported and how to determine the appropriate diagnosis codes to report.  Significantly, anytime a TPOC (settlement) is reported, the adjuster should determine if medicals are closed as part of the settlement and whether the ORM termination date should also be reported.
  • Effective Quality Assurance of ORM Reporting: Even with training, errors will occur. Additional resources placed into quality assurance of ORM reporting, such as double checking claims for proper ORM termination and appropriate diagnosis code choices avoids the expenditure of additional resources at a later date to correct errors in reporting and address unnecessary recovery demands from the CRC. If you are an employer or carrier relying upon a TPA to report, it is especially important to have a QA process in place to check the data entered by the TPA.
  • Ensure Reporting Platform is Accurately Reporting: Section 111 Reporting is electronically based and requires a data exchange with Medicare. Errors can and will occur in this data exchange. Ensure you have a trusted and reliable reporting agent, like Tower, who will not only identify CMS submission errors, but also capture issues like a missing ORM termination date, and work with you to have them corrected prior to reporting to Medicare.

 

For more information on Medicare Set Asides (MSAs) and conditional payments, check out the webinar “Everything you ever wanted to know about conditional payments but were afraid to ask” on Wednesday, October 23rd at 2:00 pm ET. 

 

 

Author Dan Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, Tower MSA Partners. Dan oversees the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance program. In this position, he is responsible for ensuring the integrity and quality of the MSA program and other MSP compliance services and products. Based upon his more than a decade of experience in working with employers, insurers, TPAs, attorneys and claimants, Dan provides education and consultation to Tower MSA clients on all aspects of MSP compliance. Contact: (888) 331-4941 or daniel.anders@towermsa.com

 

Eliminate ‘MSA Fear’ In Upcoming WCI Session in Orlando

msa fearAmong the biggest fears of many people you may know are heights, snakes — and MSAs. Workers’ compensation stakeholders often want to avoid the very idea of Medicare Set-Asides.  Among their concerns are

 

  • Fees for MSA preparation
  • MSA professional administration
  • Cost of the MSA
  • Requirements to obtain additional medical documentation
  • Time involved
  • Submitting the MSA to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Failed settlements due to rejected MSAs

 

For injured workers, their concerns about MSAs may be the biggest thing keeping them from settling their claims.  The fear of running out of money too soon is often stronger than their dislike of the workers’ compensation system. Knowing they will have to navigate their own healthcare with no support from adjusters and/or case managers can also generate concerns. Finally, there is the uncomfortable prospect of having to administer their own MSA funds, or turning that task over to someone else

 

With so many parties apprehensive about MSAs, it’s no wonder many workers’ compensation claims go unsettled for years.

 

On Aug. 14, a panel of experts will discuss the fear of MSAs and how to overcome them to allow settlements to move forward. The session, Allaying the MSA Fear at the Time of Settlement, takes place during the 74th annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference (WCI), Aug. 11 – 14 at the Orlando World Center Marriott.  I’ll have the pleasure of moderating the session.

 

With expertise in MSAs, structured settlements, and professional administration, the speakers include:

 

  • Kris Sallee, Claims Manager-Eastern Region, American Airlines
  • Daniel Anders, Chief Compliance Officer, Tower MSA Partners
  • Marques Torbert, Chief Executive Officer, Ametros
  • Joe Bornstein, Structured Settlement Consultant, Arcadia Settlements Group

 

Using real case studies, the panelists will demonstrate how to approach settlements logistically by using an intervention-driven method to develop MSA allocation, professional administration to protect MSA dollars and support the injured party after the settlement, and a structured settlement to extend the dollars over the person’s lifetime.

 

The speakers will provide practical solutions to ‘MSA fear,’ and show how using each type of expert creates a synergy that allows for a smooth settlement process when an MSA is involved. They will also address the risks of not submitting an MSA for CMS review. And they will take questions from attendees.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Bringing Understanding of MSA Complexities at WCI in Orlando

Understanding of MSA CompliexityMedicare Set-Asides are a pain-in-the-neck nightmare for many workers’ compensation stakeholders. They are expensive, complicated, and seemingly fraught with landmines. One misstep could cost a bundle for you and anyone else involved.

 

Concerns over MSAs result in a plethora of workers’ compensation claims left open – often years after they could have and should have been closed. Payers end up spending far more for ongoing medical than would have been allocated in an MSA, had the case been settled long ago.

 

But there is good news! MSAs don’t have to be ridiculously expensive or complex. Yes, they need to be carefully managed, and they need to be overseen by someone with a deep understanding of the intricacies of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ processes. Employers, payers, and others who have a basic insight into MSAs can approach claims settlement realistically, getting long-term claims off their books and helping injured workers to be in the best position to move forward with their lives.

 

A major employer and an MSA expert will take a deep dive into the issue during the 74th annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference (WCI), Aug. 11 – 14 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Their focus will be on ways to measure and manage MSA costs. The session, Optimizing Settlement Outcomes by Measuring and Managing MSA Costs takes place Wed., Aug. 14, at 10:00 a.m. I’ll have the pleasure of moderating the session.

 

 

Measuring

 

The first step in assuring accurate future medical costs is to know what is in them. For example, do you know:

 

  • How many of your MSAs contain prescription drugs, the most commonly cited reason for high MSA costs?
  • How many contain prescription medications?
  • Your average CMS approved MSA amount?
  • Your trend lines year over year for your MSA program?

 

Attorney Dan Anders, the chief compliance officer for Tower MSA Partners, and Kris Sallee, claims manager-Eastern Region for American Airlines will provide metrics that will help you determine your MSA program success. Anders will show national standards, while Sallee will offer her company’s metrics to better understand how to measure your own program. Most importantly, the speakers will explain what the metrics mean and how they can be used to improve your MSA program.

 

 

Cost Management

 

Once the metrics are understood, it’s time to get down to the business of actually managing the costs of an MSA. The same types of best practices used for handling claims also come into play when developing MSAs, such as clinical interventions. For example, reducing unnecessary treatments and medications during the claims handling process will reduce the cost of the MSA.

 

Certain treatments, such as spinal cord stimulators and revision surgeries are most likely to increase MSA costs – and are often unnecessary. Likewise, certain medications may no longer be needed for the injured worker. Or there may be instances where a generic medication can be substituted for a brand name, either currently or in the near-term future when a patent for a particular medication expires.

 

The speakers will show attendees how to draft an MSA with an eye toward cost and frequency, as well as identifying opportunities to limit the MSA before sending it to CMS. Submitting the MSA can be tricky, and the panelists will address the necessary steps, especially the re-review process, when a dispute can be raised.

 

Finally, the speakers will allocate time for questions about all things MSA.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Case Study: More than $1.5 Million in Savings Through Generic Substitutes

Generic drugs in workers' compensationThe latest Drug Trend Report from myMatrixx once again showed a substantial cost difference between brand-name and generic drugs. In fact, while the costs of brand name drugs are increasing, prices for generics are steadily decreasing. Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation stakeholders overlook this issue when preparing Medicare Set-asides.

 

Medications prescribed for the injured worker are expected to be included in the MSA to gain approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. There are exceptions; however; such as when it can be demonstrated the injured worker is no longer taking the medication. But switching from brand-name to generic medications is one of the most efficient and effective ways to reduce costs.

 

 

Generics vs. Brand-Names

 

Some people are concerned that generic drugs are of lower quality than brand-name medications. The Food and Drug Administration stipulates that all generic drugs must be equivalent to their brand-name counterparts. Additional FDA requirements include:

 

  • That generic drugs have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug.
  • The generic manufacturer must prove its drug is the same (bioequivalent) as the brand-name drug.
  • All manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites must pass the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs.
  • Any generic modeled after a single, brand name drug must perform approximately the same in the body as the brand name drug.

 

The FDA also points out that many generic drugs are made in the same manufacturing plants as brand-name drugs.

 

Are there differences between generics and brand name drugs? Yes, but as the FDA points out: “There will always be a slight, but not medically important, level of natural variability just as there is for one batch of brand name drug compared to the next batch of brand name product. This amount of difference would be expected and acceptable, whether for one batch of brand name drug tested against another batch of the same brand or for a generic tested against a brand name drug.”

 

Generic drugs are cheaper than brand-names because the manufacturer making the generic version does not have to go through costly clinical trials that new drugs do. Also, they don’t generally pay to advertise, market or promote the drug, since the brand-name maker has already established the drug in the marketplace. The competition created by multiple manufacturers developing a generic version of a brand-name medication further drives down the price of the medication.

 

The only reason for any patient to use a brand-name over a generic medication is if the generic drug causes unusual side effects to a particular person or, in rare cases, is less effective. In the vast majority of cases, patients do just as well with generic medications as with their brand-name counterparts.

 

The biggest difference between generic and brand name medications is the price. A case study of a recent MSA is a dramatic example of this.

 

 

Case Study (Provided by Tower MSA Partners): More than $1.5 Million in Savings Through Generic Substitutes

 

An injured worker who had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and mood disorders was taking a variety of medications to treat his conditions. Among the more costly drugs were Wellbutrin, Klonopin, Rozerem, and Neurontin — all brand-name medications.

 

When discussions about settling the claim began, the initial MSA included $1,657,022 for medications and $30,058 for future medicals.

 

Total MSA Exposure — $1,687,081.

 

 

Solution

 

After identifying the brand-name medications as the key cost drivers in the initial MSA allocation, Tower recommended working with the injured worker’s attorney and the treating physician to switch to generic substitutes. The switch from brands-to-generics took several months to complete, to ensure the effectiveness of each.

 

When the conversion was completed, a physician’s statement was obtained confirming the switch from brand to generic, as well as an updated prescription history documenting ongoing generic use. Tower promptly submitted an MSA with an allocation of $112,572.

 

Results

 

CMS approved the MSA within eight days, allowing the parties to settle. The switch from brand-name to generic medications resulted in savings of $1,574,509 — and assured the injured worker would have enough funds for his future medicals and medications.

 

Conclusion

 

Developing and getting FDA approval for a medication is a long, complicated process. Drug manufacturers charge for a medication based on their expenses for creating and bringing the drug to market. Once the patent expires for a particular medication, other manufacturers are free to produce the same drug — as long as it meets the FDA standards for generics; i.e., it is the same drug.

 

The cost difference between generic and brand-name medications continues to grow further apart. By carefully looking at the medications prescribed for an injured worker and working with various stakeholders involved, an appropriate, cost-effective MSA can be created.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Case Study: $270,917 in MSA Savings Through Physician Follow-up

Reduce your workers' comp case studyDeveloping a Medicare Set-Aside is not only a time-consuming and arduous process, but can also be unnecessarily expensive. There are many instances where tremendous sums of money are included in an MSA just because stakeholders were not diligent in analyzing what was included.

 

A case in point was a recent situation in which a medication the injured worker had taken only one time was set to be part of his lifetime medications in the MSA. Had this seemingly simple oversight not been flagged, it would have driven up the cost of the MSA by hundreds of thousands of dollars!

 

We hear all too often about injured workers who, unfortunately, fall through the cracks in the workers’ compensation system and are not appropriately cared for. While these represent only a small minority of cases, they generate headlines. Equally disturbing are stories of injured workers who’ve settled their cases and soon after find themselves out of money with no hope of paying for their future medical expenses, let alone moving on with their lives.

 

The goal of developing an MSA is to identify as accurately as possible the total cost that will be incurred during the injured worker’s life. The amount needs to include all expenses related only to the specific injury, as well as other treatments that may be needed later on.

 

Either party – injured worker or employer/payer – can wind up on the losing end of a settlement if it is not done correctly. This is why it is so important for all parties to carefully review the medications, procedures, and costs involved before signing off on an MSA.

 

 

Case Study (Provided by Tower MSA Partners): $270,917 in Savings from Physician Follow-up

 

An injured worker had been diagnosed with a variety of conditions stemming from a workplace injury, including depression, anxiety, complex regional pain syndrome and bilateral hand/arm pain with radiation to his right shoulder and neck. He was ready to settle his claim and leave the workers’ compensation system.

 

Among the six RXs included in the MSA projection was Nucynta 50mg. This opioid is meant to be a short-term treatment for moderate to severe pain. Not only is it highly addictive, but also extremely expensive. It comprised $245,721 of the MSA amount.

 

The worker had, understandably been treated by several physicians in the year before he agreed to settle. But the medical records were less than complete.

 

Total MSA Exposure — $326,925.

 

 

Solution:

 

With so many physicians involved, Tower’s physician follow-up team first obtained statements from each of the six providers involved in the worker’s treatment. They confirmed the last dates of services and whether medications had been continued or not. If they were, the name of the drug, dosage, and frequency for each was requested.

 

The physician who had prescribed Nucynta confirmed it was a one-time fill that was subsequently discontinued. The team identified several additional discrepancies in the statements from the physicians and had the physicians document the medical records with a revised medication list that reflected what the injured worker was actually taking and expected to need going forward.

 

 

Results:

 

Removing Nucynta from the medication list reduced the projected amount of the MSA by more than $245,000. An additional $81, 204 was also eliminated, based on the physicians’ statements

 

The MSA went from $326,925 to $56,008 — a savings of $270,917 and, with no negative impact on the injured worker!

 

 

Conclusion:

 

While the particular medication involved in this case was on the high-end of errors, the situation is all too familiar. Stakeholders often take information about current and future medications and treatments at face value, without delving into what is behind the numbers.

 

This case is typical in that a variety of physicians were involved, their records in many cases were incomplete, and there were medications included that had no bearing on the injured worker’s current, let alone future status.

 

Creating accurate MSAs takes time and skill. Those who undertake them need to ask questions and obtain all relevant information in order to come up with an amount that is fair to all sides.

 

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Steps to Optimize Medicare Set Asides Before — and After — Settlement

Optimize MSAs Most workers’ compensation practitioners agree: Medicare Set-Asides can be a pain in the neck.  It takes time, resources and skill to create an MSA.  In addition, any snag could result in a loss of money — for the injured worker as well as other parties involved.

 

The myriad of moving parts and high chance for error, along with getting approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are the reasons a specialized industry has arisen around MSAs as well as other components to Medicare Secondary Payer compliance.  By understanding such things as when, how, and where to get an appropriate MSA and ensuring post-settlement assistance is available for reporting and follow-through, stakeholders can settle more claims and feel confident they are doing the right thing for injured workers and other parties involved.

 

 

MSA Realities

 

Here are a few sobering, post-settlement, realities from a professional administrator that demonstrate why MSAs cause angst to so many:

 

  1. There were 51% more phone calls from Medicare on MSA administration in 2018, compared to 2017
  2. Medicare inquired on virtually 100 percent of lump sum MSA exhaustions
  3. Medicare checked in on 1-out-of-every-3 structured settlement exhaustions
  4. CMS is adding more technology and getting smarter about compliance every year, especially with the post-settlement administration of the MSA.

 

In other words, don’t expect the government to ease up on ensuring Medicare’s status as the secondary payer in workers’ compensation cases anytime soon. Quite the opposite is happening as Medicare becomes more intent on not only ensuring the MSA was accurately put together but that the funds are spent appropriately.

 

 

MSA Q&As

 

Here are appropriate questions you need to ask and what to look for.

 

 

When is the right time to obtain an MSA?

 

When an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement. Someone who is about to have or just had surgery, or is changing medical providers is not an appropriate candidate because his medical situation is likely to change. The injured worker should have his medications and treatment stabilized.

 

 

How can MSA amounts be deemed sufficient for the injured worker but not excessive?

 

You want to make sure the injured worker has the funds he needs to live out a fulfilling life, but don’t want to spend unnecessary dollars. This requires working with an MSA partner willing to take a deep look into the injured worker’s situation, now and in the future. There may be some projected treatments and/or medications that are inappropriate and unnecessary. Things to consider are:

 

  • Generic alternatives to medications
  • Potential overuse of opioids
  • Inconsistencies between medical records and prescription drug history
  • Whether authorized medications are still being prescribed or used
  • Medications that are unrelated to the occupational injury
  • Planned surgery that the injured worker does not want or need
  • Estimated costs for surgeries and other treatments that may be unrealistic
  • Frequency of physician visits
  • Rated age/life expectancy
  • Evidence-based medicine; to ensure it is being followed

 

 

What is clinical intervention and why is it important?

 

Identifying and clarifying these and other issues takes leg work. The MSA vendor must be willing and able to work with treating physicians and others to get the correct answers, as these are key to both saving money and protecting the injured worker.

 

This may include

 

  1. Physician follow-up
  2. Clinical oversight
  3. Peer-to-peer review, where another physician is brought in to work with the treating physician
  4. Addressing inappropriate care — another area where peer review is advantageous

 

There are situations, for example, when a particular medication is listed as being current but is no longer being prescribed. The solution is to have both the injured worker and the treating physician write statements specifying the date the medication ceased to be prescribed or used.

 

Another typical example is when a treating physician had discussed a specific treatment — such as a spinal cord stimulator, but later determined it was not necessary. The cost of a spinal cord stimulator can be in excess of $150,000. In that case, the MSA partner should seek a statement from the treating physician confirming the treatment is no longer necessary or reasonable.

 

 

What are indications of an effective MSA partner?

 

When considering organizations for partnerships, facts and figures tell the story. Some to look for include:

 

  • CMS MSA approval rate
  • Percentage of MSAs with prescription medications, especially opioids
  • Percentage of cases settled
  • Savings from clinical interventions
  • Rate of development letters
  • Average MSA approval amount

 

“These metrics determine the success or failure of an MSA program in limiting allocation amounts and facilitating settlement,” says Dan Anders, Chief Compliance Office of Tower MSA Partners.  “Your MSA partner should be using these key performance indicators to drive the outcomes you want to see.”

 

 

Post-Settlement MSA Support

 

Just because the MSA has been developed and approved by CMS and the claim settled, does not mean things cannot still go wrong. Complying with CMS requirements — including reporting duties — is crucial. That’s why it’s just as important to have a post-settlement strategy set up before the claim is settled. If the injured worker unintentionally fails to adhere to CMS guidelines and the money runs out —

 

  • They jeopardize their future Medicare benefits
  • They may be forced to reimburse all the money that was misspent, up to the full settlement amount
  • Their attorney(s) and/or others (including the adjuster/payer) may also be pulled back into the case, which can cause unnecessary burdens and work on everyone involved

 

Those in the best position to ensure things go smoothly after the settlement are professional administrators. These are neutral, third-party experts who handle all compliance and annual reporting for MSAs. Additionally, professional administrators establish a bank account for the injured worker’s future medical care and act as custodian — receiving the medical bills and paying them on behalf of the injured worker.

 

“There are a lot of things that happen in the settlement process that could confuse an injured worker,” said Marques Torbert, CEO of the leading professional administration company, Ametros. “Injured workers are worried about getting better. A professional administrator makes sure the injured worker has a support system and access to savings and support post-settlement while helping to keep them in compliance.”

 

A professional administrator should have extensive physician and pharmaceutical networks, which results in cost savings for the injured worker and extends the life of the MSA. Top-notch professional administrators demonstrate significant cost savings for injured workers while also protecting Medicare’s interests by maintaining the viability of the MSAs account over those workers’ lifetimes

 

Average Savings From Top Professional Administrator

 

  1. 63% on provider bills
  2. 28% on other medical expenses
  3. 50% with bill review adjustments

 

Many advocates for injured workers are finding that bringing in professional administrators during the settlement process can be extremely valuable. Because they are neutral third parties, they can serve as mediators for competing interests; such as carriers, and plaintiff and defense attorneys.

 

“Bridging the gap to settlement can sometimes be difficult,” says Torbert. “At the end of the day you have several stakeholders at the table, the only party that stays with the injured worker well after the settlement is the professional administrator. Being able to show the injured worker that they will be taken care of can help all parties come to a resolution.”

 

The benefits of professional administrators are such that CMS itself last year “highly recommended” injured workers consider using them for MSA administration.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Injured workers who have been in the workers’ compensation system for long periods are often hesitant to settle their claims due to fears of running out of money. An improperly developed or utilized MSA is one of the main reasons that fear can come to fruition. Having the right partners involved brings peace of mind to injured workers, as well as all parties involved in settlement.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

12 Questions and Metrics to Assess Work Comp MSA Cost Drivers

12 Questions and Metrics to Assess Work Comp MSA Cost Drivers A thoughtful and critical review of your Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) compliance program is a great exercise to perform annually.  Consider these questions and metrics:

 

 

Questions & Metrics to Assess Work Comp MSA Cost Drivers:

 

  • What percentage of your Medicare Set-Aside (MSA) submissions are accepted?
  • Can you identify the biggest cost drivers in your MSAs?
  • What percentage of your CMS approved MSAs include opioids?
  • What percentage of your approved MSAs include any pharmaceuticals?
  • What is the average cost of prescription drugs on MSAs?
  • Do you understand why CMS approves/denies MSA proposals?
  • Are you overfunding/underfunding MSAs? How do you know?
  • Do you know what documentation you need for approval of changes in medical treatment or pharmaceuticals?

 

If you were not able to confidently answer the questions above it might be time to make some changes to your MSP compliance program. Some claims and risk managers put together a program, let it run and hope for the best. Instead, using data analytics and continuously tracking outcomes and other performance indicators can significantly improve the process of preparing and submitting MSAs to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — especially, where pharmaceuticals are concerned.

 

 

MSP Through the Years

 

It’s been approximately 15 years since the government ramped up its efforts to ensure Medicare doesn’t pay for medical services that should be funded by some other entity, including the workers’ compensation system.  At the time, organizations scrambled for ways to develop MSAs that would be approved by CMS.

 

The process for CMS approvals has evolved over the years. What was a fairly complicated system, to begin with, has turned into an extremely intricate series of steps that can befuddle even the most competent people in the industry – unless they have the benefit of highly advanced technological solutions combined with strong expertise.

 

For example, in addition to new regulations from CMS, state statutes and fee schedules are also constantly changing. Failing to keep tabs on them can make the process time consuming, costly and fraught with peril.

 

In the past 18 months, CMS has taken steps to intensify its efforts further. The agency has put millions of dollars into a new contractor and greatly updated its technology, making the process of identifying mistakes that much quicker and easier. It means anyone trying to stay in compliance with Medicare also needs to improve and upgrade their systems.

 

 

What the Metrics Can Tell Us

 

Most workers’ compensation payers would agree that pharmacy is the biggest cost driver for their MSAs. However, few know the answers to these key metrics:

 

  • What is your current pharmacy spend on MSAs?
  • What percentage of your CMS-approved MSAs include opioids?
  • What percentage of MSAs are approved with or without drugs?
  • What is the average cost of prescription drugs on your MSAs?

 

With medications comprising such a tremendous portion of MSA costs, it’s vital to have a clear understanding of the issue. This can only be accomplished by focusing on the metrics. By analyzing the data on opioids as well as other pharmaceuticals in terms of your MSAs that are approved, you can then begin to fully manage these costs.

 

 

Optimizing MSA Outcomes

 

Whether working with an MSA vendor or doing Medicare compliance on your own, several strategies are a must for success.

 

  1. Identify metrics that drive the results you want to see, particularly where medications are concerned.
  2. Measure your performance and modify processes, workflow, and technology to improve it. For example, look at the percentage of your MSAs with ongoing medical to see how much you have allocated for opioids. If the answer is anything more than zero, go back to the drawing board.
  3. Examine current CMS performance and the most recent state statutes and fee schedules against CMS’s review methodology as defined in the most recent Workers’ Compensation MSA Reference Guide. If/when there are changes, update your system immediately. Once developed, this should be a simple verification, audit and sign-off process.
  4. Analyze every CMS response against your internal best practices in MSA allocation, with a focus on pharmaceuticals and opioids. You want to know how you are performing against CMS in such areas as pricing, frequency and life expectancy.
  5. Leverage Section 111 data to improve the CMS approval rate of MSAs.

 

To truly effect change in your Medicare compliance program requires examining certain metrics and taking steps to manage them best. For example:

 

  1. What is the number of Medicare conditional payment searches and investigations initiated and the success rates for disputes and appeals, including dollars saved?
  2. What type of clinical interventions have been initiated, what is their success rate and the average dollar amount saved because of them? This strategy can save many thousands of dollars per claim. Investigating each claim with an eye toward medical procedures anticipated and/or pharmaceuticals can yield surprising results. You may find, for example, a doctor is prescribing a medication the injured worker no longer takes or has never taken; so removing that drug from the future medical amount is an easy change.
  3. What is the percentage of submissions to which CMS has countered with a higher dollar amount? A lower dollar amount? If there is a high percentage of either, you need to understand why there is a trend and how to counteract it.

 

You want the injured worker to have adequate funds for his lifetime needs related to the injury, but you don’t want to pay unnecessarily high costs. Often the projected expenses are way too high, or the therapy is not within evidence-based medical guidelines.

 

The best MSA developers can fully assess exposure before the proposal is submitted. They can spot inappropriate or unnecessary treatment and pharmaceuticals AND take steps to curb them such as physician peer-to-peer discussions, for example.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Paying too much for anything does not make sense. But, that’s exactly what happens far too often because many workers’ compensation payers don’t take advantage of advanced technologies in developing MSAs. Using metrics and data analytics and working with an MSA expert can help ensure injured workers get what they need and deserve without payers going overboard.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor 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 .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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