CBO Says Widely-Supported Medicare Secondary Payment Bill Will Save Money

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that passage of legislation that would streamline enforcement of the Medicare Secondary Payment program would save the government money.

The bill is H.R. 1063, the SMART Act, or The Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act.

The bipartisan legislation was reported to the House floor Sept. 20 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

According to the CBO, passage of the legislation would save the government $45 million over 10 years.

It would do so by making it easier for other payers, such as insurers, to repay Medicare, thus reducing program costs, CBO said.

The bill would clarify industry-reporting requirements under legislation enacted in 2007, which requires reimbursement to Medicare for payments made to people who are also paid later through workers’ compensation or liability claims.

Melissa Shelk, vice president of federal affairs for the American Insurance Association, says, “AIA is pleased with the CBO score of HR 1063 and that it recognizes that Medicare’s receiving conditional payment reimbursements more quickly will reduce program costs.”

David Farber, a partner at Patton Boggs in Washington, and lobbyist for the Medicare Advocacy Recovery Coalition (MARC), a group of employers and other third-party payers, says the coalition “is delighted” that the CBO has issued a positive score for the legislation.

“The CBO score supports the benefits of the legislation,” Farber says, adding, “We look forward to Congress enacting the legislation into law this year.”

The bill was introduced last year in the House; similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.

The issue has been around for several years because of industry and plaintiff lawyer concern that the original bill, added to non-germane legislation in 2007, has not been implemented efficiently by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, creating delays and additional costs for CMS, insurance companies, third-party payers and beneficiaries and their lawyers.

The bill’s next step is sequential referral to the House Ways and Means Committee, a committee with “concurrent jurisdiction.”

Given its broad bipartisan support, it is likely to pass muster as is in that Committee, win House support shortly, and be accepted by the Senate sometime during the current so-called “lame-duck” session.

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