President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law the Strengthening Medicare And Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, which cuts through red tape for beneficiaries, insurers, and lawyers, but is neutral toward providers.
The new law cleans up what were bureaucratic snafus when Medicare-eligibles were injured in cases where secondary payers are involved. In those cases, Medicare wants to make sure it is reimbursed from secondary payers so that beneficiary is not paid twice for same injury or the secondary payer gets out of its obligation by having Medicare pay in its place. Unfortunately the mechanisms in place to prevent that also prevented seniors for getting settlements, often for years. Worse, Medicare would came after seniors years later for medical bills that it believed resulted from the injury.
The Act codifies Medicare’s responsibilities as to when it must present a final bill to a beneficiary related to an injury that involves a secondary payer so that a timely settlement can be reached.
An excellent summary of what the Act does and what it corrects can be found here at the website of the American Association for Justice (formerly the American Association of Trial Lawyers).