On August 30, 2012, the Federal District Court of Louisiana, Western District, LaFayette Division, published its opinion in Bessard v. Superior Energy Services, finding that there was no evidence that Mr. Bessard, his attorneys, any other party or any other party’s representative, were attempting to maximize aspects of the settlement to Medicare’s detriment. As a result, the court concluded that to the extent that Mr. Bessard receives confirmation from Medicare of any conditional payments made by Medicare for services provided prior to settlement, Mr. Bessard shall promptly reimburse Medicare for such conditional payments. In addition, Mr. Bessard shall allocate $6,701.00 out of the settlement proceeds for payment of future medical items or services, which would otherwise be covered or reimbursable by Medicare, related to the conditions claimed and released in the case.
Gregory J. Bessard was injured in a workplace accident on June 30, 2009. His case was settled amicably after lengthy negotiations. The defendant agreed to pay the plaintiff the sum of $785,000. The settlement called for Mr. Bessard to assume the obligation for payment of his future medical expenses, which were to be calculated through a MSA.
Although Mr. Bessard was not a Medicare beneficiary at the time settlement was reached, Mr. Bessard was receiving Social Security disability benefits in connection with the injuries sustained in the accident. As a result, various medical reports were accumulated and a MSA was prepared by Gould & Lamb.
Based on the information provided by Mr. Bessard’s treating physicians, utilizing the fee schedule applied in claims brought under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Gould & Lamb determined that Mr. Bessard’s future potential medical expenses that would be covered by Medicare and that were related to the injuries claimed and released amounted to $6,701.00.
Although the parties wanted the MSA approved by CMS for purposes of complying with the provisions of the MSP and the commensurate regulations, the parties were concerned that the settlement could not be finalized and cited the delays associated with obtaining approval from CMS and the possibility that approval may not ever be forthcoming.
In an effort to avoid jeopardizing the settlement and to achieve compliance with the provisions of the MSP, the plaintiff and defendant jointly filed a motion for Declaratory Judgment seeking (1) approval of the settlement, (2) a declaration that the interests of Medicare are adequately protected by setting aside a sum of money to fund Mr. Bessard’s reasonably anticipated future medical expenses related to the injuries claimed and released in the lawsuit, and (3) an order setting that amount aside from the settlement proceeds and depositing it into an interest bearing checking account to be self-administered by Mr. Bessard.
The Court set the matter for an evidentiary hearing and ordered service to be made by the Clerk of Court on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the chief counsel of HHS/OGC for Region VI, and the civil chief of the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. By letter dated August 20, 2012 from the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the Court was advised that HHS/CMS would not participate in the hearing.
At the hearing, the Court heard testimony from Patricia Kent, staff attorney with Gould & Lamb LLC, who was accepted as an expert in MSA/MSP issues, and who explained how the MSA evaluation was prepared. Although the most recent reports from the physicians treating Mr. Bessard did not state that additional diagnostic testing was necessary or that Mr. Bessard would require future visits with his physicians or additional physical therapy, the standard applied by Gould & Lamb in preparing the MSA was to consider all reasonably foreseeable medical expenditures.
The Court found that the methodology used by Gould & Lamb to calculate the estimated future medical costs, as set forth in the MSA, was both reasonable and reliable. The Court further found based upon MS. Kent’s testimony, that the future services listed in the MSA were reasonably foreseeable, adequately considered Medicare’s interests under the MSP, and the amount set forth in the MSA adequately protected Medicare’s interests.
As the premier and most trusted MSP vendor in the country, this case again highlights the usefulness and benefits of Gould & Lamb’s comprehensive array of MSP services. In addition to Mandatory Insurer Reporting, Conditional Payment Resolution, Medicare Set Asides, Post Settlement Account Administration, Prescription Drug Program, Future Medical Costs Projections, and Life Care Plan services, Gould & Lamb also offers Settlement Language Guide, Settlement Document Review, MSP Exposure Analysis, and Expert Testimony services.
Gould & Lamb provides its clients with Medicare Compliance Services and Programs focused on reducing claim costs and positioning claims for settlement. To this end, Gould & Lamb has prepared a Settlement Language Guide to assist insurers and self insured entities navigate the complex sea of Medicare Secondary Payer compliance. The guide contains language for possible claims settlement scenarios with a description and analysis of possible actions. Once the Conditional Payment or Medicare Set Aside issue has been brought to light, Gould & Lamb will assist with recommending MSP appropriate and protective settlement language. If you have already produced settlement documentation that contains such language, Gould & Lamb will review same and make recommendations on any needed changes, additions, or deletions. Gould & Lamb also offers our clients detailed and specific to the claim analysis of all Medicare Secondary Payer exposure issues that may exist in your case. Gould & Lamb’s extensive and experienced MSP legal team will provide a written analysis, including statutory, regulatory, and case law citations, that outlines any Medicare Secondary Payer exposure and recommends solutions to any discovered potential problems or issues. Gould & Lamb also provides expert advice on MSP issues, available to provide expert testimony on any MSP issue at meetings, mediations, depositions, hearings, trials, or any other event our client deems our expert analysis helpful or necessary.
About the Author: Russell S. Whittle, Esq., is the Vice President of MSP Compliance for Gould & Lamb, LLC. In his twenty plus years of practice prior to joining Gould & Lamb, LLC, Mr. Whittle practiced primarily in the area of insurance defense, representing the interests of large insurers and employers in both workers’ compensation and general automobile liability matters.