NJ, a State that elected not to data match with CMS, is now reporting a drop of 46% of its backlog from the cases designated "waiting for CMS approval," MCARE matters. In a memo to all judges and attorneys, the Director and Chief Judge reported the drop in the cases so designated.
The memo encourages and the use of "specialists" and suggestions that the cost for that service be shared among the parties. It also suggested that some cases be tried fully or partially and that special language be incorporated in Judgments/Settlements where cases have been compromised, providing the opportunity for the cases to be re-heard at a later date to address Medicare issues when reviews are actually completed by CMS. It is difficult to determine whether the CMS issues are actually being completely resolved or whether they are deferred to a later date. The State of NJ continues to offer the judicial assistance of the Division of Workers' Compensation to reduce the backlog of cases designated as MCARE matters.
The memo also recognizes that little action has occurred on the Industry supported, and previously ill fated, Medicare Secondary Payer Statute which attempts to modify the CMS recoupment procedure for conditional medical payments. The proposed admendments discourage the periodic payments of compensation benefits, a basic premise of the entire workers' compensation system.
Attention was brought to the NJ situation when local attorneys enlightened Senator Lautenberg who then introduce Federal legislation requesting the that CMS provide status on the CMS recovery effort.
“These delays mean that thousands of workers in New Jersey and across the country are waiting months and even years to be compensated for their workplace injuries. Workers who are hurt on the job rely on these payments for medical expenses and to get their lives back on track. Medicare needs to provide information to Congress immediately on the number and length of these delays so we can determine the best way to end them and get workers the settlements they need and deserve,” said Sen. Lautenberg, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
CMS has since supported newely enacted legislation and Rules to place an increased burden on primary medical providers, major medical carriers and employers to comply with reporting issues.