The risk of double damages claimed against California workers compensation carriers may be increasing for failure to reimburse Medicare Advantage Plans for medical care of an injured worker when a claim is settled.
Hartford Casualty Insurance Company is the target of a new complaint recently filed in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle) by Humana Health Plan.
Humana, as a Medicare Advantage Plan (MAP) is seeking a declaratory judgment as to Hartford’s obligation to reimburse conditional payments made before settlement of its claim, as well as a private cause of action pursuant to 42 USC 1395y(b)(3)(A) for the recovery of double damages for the alleged failure to reimburse Humana.
If Humana ultimately prevails and Hartford appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, precedent may be set determining that MAPs have the same recovery rights as traditional Medicare (a right to double damages for failure to reimburse MAP conditional payments within 60 days of issuance of the settlement check) in the largest Circuit in the United States including California.
These states would be added to the growing list of the 3rd and 11th Circuits from the In Re Avandia and Western Heritage litigation which has now established this double damages private cause of action right for MAPs in the states of: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
The Medicare beneficiary in this test case was injured in a car accident. The Enrollee received medical treatment related to the collision which was paid for by Humana totaling at least $161,853.14 in conditional payments. On February 19, 2015 Humana sent Hartford a written notice of its right to recovery of the conditional payments pursuant to the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP).
Later in 2015 Hartford entered into a settlement with Enrollee. Enrollee was responsible for reimbursing Humana within 60 days of the Hartford’s payment of the settlement amount; however, Enrollee did not reimburse Humana.
Even though Hartford had already paid Enrollee the settlement funds, Humana alleges that the Hartford remains responsible to ensure that Humana was reimbursed pursuant to 42 CFR 411.24(i)(1).
The issue of a MAP’s ability to bring a double damages private cause of action was brought to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Parra v. PacifiCare of Arizona back in 2012. The MAP in Parra was unsuccessful in its double damages pursuit and simply awarded a contractual right of recovery.The Parra court determined that double damages was not available, because the carrier had already interpleaded the funds to the Court, and at that point had no control over such funds. The MAP had a remedy by exercising its recovery directly against the beneficiary from that fund.
However, this new complaint filed by Humana may establish MSP double damages if the allegations that Hartford ignored Humana’s request for reimbursement holds true.
Thus far, Circuit Courts and District Courts nationwide tend to be favoring MAPs having the same rights to recovery as Medicare. Further, the circumstances and legalities behind this complaint are quite simple: Hartford was on notice of Humana’s claim for recovery and did not respond/reimburse. Despite Hartford already having paid Enrollee, Humana purport to have a solid legal basis to pursue recovery from Hartford pursuant to 42 CFR 411.24(i)(1).