Update 2 on settlement process for victims of meningitis outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections.
Channel 7 News (WXYZ) provides an update on the Michigan victims of tainted steroid injections from 2012. We have been paying close attention to this story as it involves several individuals on workers’ compensation.
A federal judge approved a $200 million fund for victims. It was anticipated that payments would begin sometime last year. Government red tape is now holding up the process and victims have not yet seen a dime.
Medicare has put liens on the settlement money to recover what it spent paying for medical care. Even letters from Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have fallen on deaf ears at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Attorneys are currently negotiating a reduced percentage so that victims can get some compensation.
We have blogged about similar problems in the past. Medicare will make payments for treatment related to workers’ compensation even though another party is responsible under state law. These “conditional payments” must be reimbursed if a person receives a settlement or award.
Claimants have to guess as to the correct lien amount because a final number will not be provided by Medicare until the case actually settles. This makes resolution extremely difficult because neither side knows how much needs to be paid back. It is also nearly impossible to get a lien reduction.
We agree that Medicare should be paid back when another party is responsible for payment. However, this awful situation illustrates why legislation is needed. A general rule that Medicare cannot recovery more than 1/3 of the net recovery is an easy fix.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Tax Credits.