The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced on November 4, 2019 that a Baltimore personal injury law firm that heavily advertises that it handles medical malpractice and other personal injury cases has paid the United States $91,406.98 to resolve allegations that it failed to reimburse Medicare for conditional payments that had been made to medical providers on behalf of the law firm’s clients.
Under the Medicare statute and regulations, Medicare is authorized to make conditional payments for medical items or services under certain circumstances, with the requirement that when an injured person receives a tort settlement or judgment, those receiving the proceeds of the settlement or judgment, including the injured person’s attorney, are required to repay Medicare for the conditional payments. According to the settlement agreement, over a number of years, Medicare made conditional payments to healthcare providers to satisfy medical bills for the law firm’s clients.
The federal government alleged that during that period, the Baltimore law firm referred clients to or entered into joint representation agreements with co-counsel on four of the six matters about which the U.S. Attorney’s office contacted the law firm. The federal government contended that the Baltimore law firm, either itself or together with co-counsel, negotiated for and received settlement proceeds for the law firm’s clients, but neither the law firm nor its clients repaid Medicare for conditional payments that Medicare made to medical providers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland warned: “This settlement reminds attorneys of their obligation to reimburse Medicare for conditional payments after receiving settlement or judgment proceeds for their clients. This is no less true for plaintiffs’ attorneys who refer cases to co-counsel or jointly represent plaintiffs.”
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland stated, “Plaintiffs’ attorneys cannot refer a case to or enter into a joint representation agreement with co-counsel and simply wash their hands clean of their obligations to reimburse Medicare for its conditional payments. We intend to hold attorneys accountable for failing to make good on their obligations to repay Medicare for its conditional payments, regardless of whether they were the ones primarily handling the litigation for the plaintiff.”
Medicare warns personal injury lawyers throughout the United States: “Both you and your client have significant responsibilities and obligations under the Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) laws … It is in your client’s best interest to keep Medicare’s claims interest in mind during the negotiation and settlement process with the third party. Medicare’s claim must be paid up front out of settlement proceeds before any distribution occurs. Moreover, Medicare must be paid within 60 days of receipt of proceeds from the third party. If Medicare is not repaid in a timely manner, interest may be assessed.”
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of a medical negligence in Baltimore, in Maryland, or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer, a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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