Friday, January 29, 2016
NECC Award Letters Begin to Arrive
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
As promised, some victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak are beginning to receive notices that their claims have been approved.
The one-page letters from the National Settlement Administrator state the number of points the victim has been awarded and the estimated amount of an initial payment.
For instance, the survivors of a victim who died in the outbreak would be awarded 55 points and the estimated initial payment would be about $71,500.
The letters are going directly to claimants. For those who have an attorney involved in the claim, the lawyer will also get a copy.
The awards will come from a $200 million trust fund created under the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the Massachusetts firm blamed for the outbreak which sickened some 778 patients across the country, killing 76 of them.
"The initial payment," the letter states, "constitutes interim compensation. You may receive additional compensation after the claims process is completed and all appeals have been resolved."
Fredric Ellis, one of the attorneys on a plaintiffs' steering committee, said recently that the approval letters would be going to 1,350 victims or their survivors. Letters to those whose claims have been denied or reduced will be going out at a later date with an explanation of the appeals process.
As the letter explains, the approval does not mean that checks will be mailed immediately. Negotiations are still ongoing with officials of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS is attempting to recoup the amounts it paid for the medical care provided to victims.
The letter states that efforts are aimed at obtaining a so-called global settlement. If that effort fails, each claim will have to be handled individually, a process that will take even longer.
The letter notes that some patients will also face liens from private insurance companies.
"If liens are required to be resolved on an individual basis, we will inform you and provide you with the name and contact information of a private lien resolution service who will work to resolve your liens if you so choose," the letter concludes.