Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Key Agreement Reached on Meningitis Funds
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
An agreement has been reached between lawyers for victims of a deadly outbreak and the U.S. Department of Justice that could finally free up some $200 million in a victims' trust fund.
In a two-page filing in U.S. District Court today Tom Sobol, the lead attorney for victims, reported that the agreement had been finalized.
U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel had strongly urged both sides to try to work out a pact prior to a hearing scheduled in her Boston, Mass. courtroom tomorrow.
Sobol reported that the agreement contained only a few minor revisions to a proposed agreement he presented to the court recently.
"The parties are happy to report they have reached full agreement," the filing states, adding that the revisions "consist of further clarifications of concepts previously agreed to by the parties."
The agreement sets the amount of the $200 million that will go to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as reimbursement for the care the agency paid in behalf of victims enrolled in the two federal programs.
The trust fund administrator had stated that none of the money could be released until a settlement was reached with CMS and the U.S. Justice Department attorneys representing that agency.
Under the agreement victims' awards will be reduced by amounts ranging from about 10.5 percent to a little over 21.5 percent to cover the reimbursement costs. According to previous testimony the higher percentages will apply to those victims with higher hospitalization or anti-fungal drug costs.
The 13-page agreement was filed along with the report to Zobel. She is expected to act on it this week.
Under the agreement victims will have the option to drop out of the so-called global settlement and negotiate a settlement of their own with CMS.