In August of 2017, the Medicare Secondary Payer Commercial Repayment Center, also known as the MSP CRC or CRC for short, prepared its annual recovery report for Congress relating to Medicare Secondary Payer Statute (MSP) conditional payment recoveries for fiscal 2016. The CRC determined, largely from responses to over 29,700 demand letters, that $243.68 million of conditional payments made in FY 2016 were “correctly identified” for further recovery efforts. The CRC reported returning over $88.35 million of these identified conditional payment dollars to the Medicare Trust Funds. This number was based on net collections of $106.29 million minus administrative and CRC contractor costs of $17.94 million. Because recovery efforts for these conditional payments will continue in the future, the recovery amounts associated with the FY 2016 conditional payments will likely increase over time.
While the amount returned to the Medicare Trust Funds decreased from $125.05 million for FY 2015 conditional payments to $88.35 million for FY 2016 payments, this reduction should not be seen as a trend. The decrease between FY2015 and FY2016 was mainly from reduced Group Health Plan (GHP) recoveries resulting from “maturity of mandatory reporting” under Section 111 of the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA) and the CRC’s “resolution of pending available recoveries.”
The CRC is the generic name for the contractor hired by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to be responsible for identifying and recovering primary payments made by Medicare when another entity had primary payment responsibility for medical items or services, including prescription drug expenses (“Medical Bills”), pursuant to the MSP. The CRC became fully operational in 2014 under the company known as CGI Federal and initially focused its post-payment review and recovery efforts in the GHP field.
In FY 2016, CMS expanded CRC’s recovery efforts to also include recovery of conditional payments made by Medicare when a Non-Group Health Plan entity such as a liability insurer (including self-insurance), no-fault insurer, or workers’ compensation entity (NGHP) had primary payment responsibility or ongoing payment responsibility for Medical Bills. In October 2017, CMS announced that Performant Recovery, Inc., an experienced auditing and recovery contractor for both CMS and the Department of Treasury, and a subsidiary of publicly traded Performant Financial Corporation, will be taking over the CRC contract beginning February 12, 2018. Recovery claims against Medicare beneficiaries will still be performed by the Benefits Coordination & Recovery Center (BCRC), the same group that CMS uses to collect Section 111 reporting data. Performant, as the new CRC contractor, recently promised to coordinate its communication with the BCRC.
According to CMS, in 2011, Medicare spent $549.1 billion dollars while covering covered 48.7 million people. The money used to run the program comes from the Medicare Trust Funds.
- It makes sense that Group Health Plans have been more compliant with promptly paying Medical Bills they have primary responsibility for and/or promptly reimbursing Medicare for conditional payments when the potential for double damages claims exist under the public cause of action provisions of the MSP by CMS and under the private cause of action provisions of the MSP by Medicare Advantage Plans (MAPs) (or their assignees). Additionally, potential civil monetary penalties under Section 111 of the MMSEA of $1,000 for each day of noncompliance for each individual for which a report is to be submitted.
- It will be interesting to see how the recently awarded contract to an experienced government collector like Performant that takes effect February 12, 2018 [as referenced in our prior blog], the continued expansion of both Medicare and MAP recoveries into NGHP categories (along with the reviews of Liability Medicare Set-Asides (LMSAs) potentially beginning as early as the summer of 2018 by the newly awarded Workers Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC), Capitol Bridge, LLC, along with the potential for better communication and integration of data exchanges between Performant and the BCRC, may affect conditional payment recoveries in the years to come.
 42 U.S.C. § 1395y(b)(2)
 There are two trust funds; the first is called the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and is funded by payroll taxes, income taxes on Social Security benefits, interest on trust fund investments, Medicare Part A premiums, and from people not eligible for premium-free Part A. The second trust fund is called the Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund and is funded by Congress, Medicare Part B premiums, Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) premiums, along with interest earned on the trust fund investments. Additional information is available here.
 42 U.S.C. § 1395y(b)(2)(B)(iii).
 42 U.S.C. §1395y(b)(3)(A).
 42 U.S.C. § 1395y(b)(7)(B)(ii).
 On September 1, 2017, CMS announced the contract for WCRC for $60 million for one year with options for four one-year extensions to Capitol Bridge, LLC. Two other bidders protested the award but those bid protests were denied on December 12, 2017. The original December 22, 2016 RFP announced the potential of anywhere from 600 to 11,000 additional LMSA reviews in addition to the WCMSA reviews expected. On February 13, 2017, CMS amended the RPF with both a Statement of Work and Responses to Questions from bidders, making it clear that the additional reviews included both LMSAs and No-Fault MSAs (NFMSAs), again referenced the potential for 11,000 reviews, and indicated that “All LMSA/NFMSA processes shall mimic existing processes nearly identically through the establishment of threshold values.”