Senators propose changes to Medicare secondary payer process

Posted Oct. 31, 2011

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A bipartisan group of senators has proposed legislation that would reform Medicare's secondary payer process for medical liability cases.

Currently, Medicare patients who are injured by a third party and receive an injury settlement must recover damages for related medical expenses. If Medicare paid for treatment of the injuries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would be entitled to be reimbursed for the care provided.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D, Ore.) and Rob Portman (R, Ohio) have proposed legislation to streamline that process. The Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act would allow the Medicare agency to disclose the secondary payer amount so it can be factored into settlements for an injured party.

CMS no longer would be required to pursue secondary payer amounts that do not cover its own expenses. The legislation also would direct CMS to provide an alternative method for identifying injured patients so sensitive personal information is not compromised.

"By making the process more efficient, Medicare will be repaid more quickly and more accurately than before and the repayment process will work the way it was designed to work," Wyden said.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D, Colo.), Richard Burr (R, N.C.), Ben Nelson (D, Neb.) and John Thune (R, S.D.) also support the bill.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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