Thursday, December 17, 2015

HHS Asked to Waive Millions in Liens on Outbreak Victims

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

In a move that could save millions of dollars intended for victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak, four members of Congress have asked a top federal official to waive the recovery of money paid by the federal government to pay for many of the victims' treatments.
In a three-page letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the four asked her to officially waive any government claim to a $200 million trust fund set up to compensate victims of the 2012 fatal outbreak.
The letter asks Burwell to "use your statutory authority to waive all Medicare liens that could attach to a victims' compensation fund to benefit  victims of the New England Compounding Center tragedy."
Signers of the letter include Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
The 2012 outbreak sickened 778 patients across the country, killing 76 of them.
Citing "the unique circumstances of this case," the four legislators, two from each party, wrote that "Many victims who received tainted doses have suffered through terrible side effects caused by the infection and the powerful drugs that save their lives."
The plea comes as more and more victims have been put on notice by the federal government and private insurers that they plan to attach liens to any awards stemming from current court litigation in order to recoup payments they made for the victims' care and recovery.
In an email response to questions recently,  a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated that the agency was required by law to seek recovery under a legal process called subrogation.
But in their letter, the four senators cited a specific provision in federal law that gives the HHS secretary the power to waive the recovery efforts.
They also noted that NECC was able to evade state and federal requirements because of a "regulatory gap."
Stating that federal government was "partially responsible" for the suffering of the victims, the letter concluded that a decision by the federal government "to attach Medicare liens to the NECC victims' compensation fund will result in continued hardship for NECC victims and their families."
In addition to Alexander and Warren the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Al Franken. Franken from Minnesota is a Democrat while Roberts is a Kansas Republican.


17 comments:

  1. OMG this is so great, and so overdue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! That would help so many. Hope it happens. Particularly for a friend I have made through this ordeal. She is 82 years old and so sweet. She deserves better then anybody.

      Delete
  2. Would this apply to all states and private insurance?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would this apply to all states and private insurance?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love Al Franken. He is a fighter of the people. But they need to stop dragging out the payment process. All they are doing is putting their boot to our throat and pushing. PAY US!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It won't apply to private insurance. This covers Medicare and Medicaid.

      Delete
    2. Yes but sometimes insurance companies will follow. We will see. More people in Congress need to get involved and make things right.

      Delete
  5. Why has all of this been dragging on? What about some compensation for victims? When will we ever be compensated? When we die of old age?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lawyer's are only gonna benfit watch

    ReplyDelete
  7. When will the victims receive our compensation? And how much are the victims looking at? It's never been said in any of these articles. It's so frustrating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Compensation is calculated by points which none of us know what our points are worth. We keep having to sign away rights just to push this through. NECC victims won't receive a lot because there are so many involved. We have been told 1st quarter of 2016 but we've been told that the last few years. Hearings keep getting dragged out, more people try to get into the lawsuit. Could drag out for months or years.

      Delete
  8. Victims are not going to be awarded much money.there's to many lawyer's that are gonna be paid.I feel the government should chip into the funds since they didn't do there job.and yes you can sue the government it's called a tort act

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No you can't Jeff. It's called governmental immunity. Already check into it.

      Delete
  9. And it's crazy that the lawyers highly recommended to vote yes.and they still can't say what a point is worth

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well today is the 11th and nothing from HHS on helping out the Medicare folk so guess they really don't care. It's their fault and FDA's fault. Figures don't it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Honestly
    the only victims from all this should be the one's who have filed in the time that was allowed.
    now all these new so called victims coming out of the woodwork could just be trying to fraud the system.
    while the real victims suffer and continuing to wait for our deserved share

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree 100%! From what I hear if you don't have the proof to back up your claim and even if you do and you didn't file in a timely manner you will be at the very bottom of the list.

      Delete