Friday, September 9, 2016
First Checks Mailed to Outbreak Victims
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
The first checks have gone out to victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak and more will now follow due to an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.
Lynne Riley, the trustee of the vctims' fund, said today that the first checks were mailed out a week and a half ago.
More checks will follow as the U.S. Justice Department has finally given its approval to an agreement on how much victims will have to pay to reimburse the Medicare program for the costs it incurred for treatment of the victims.
The payments come as the fourth anniversary of the outbreak approaches. The outbreak first came to public attention in mid-September of 2012 when a Vanderbilt University Medical Center physician notified Tennessee Health Department officials of the death of one of her patients from a rare fungal infection.
About $120 million of a $210 million trust fund will eventually be going to more than a thousand victims of the deadly outbreak caused by fungus infested injectable steroid drugs shipped to health facilities across the country.
The fund was created in the bankruptcy of the New England Compounding Center, the now defunct Framingham, Mass. firm blamed for the outbreak.
Under a court approved system, victims will be paid depending on the severity of their illnesses along with other factors including the length of hospitalization and treatment with anti-fungal drugs.
Under the agreement just approved by the U.S. Justice Department, victims will have amounts ranging from 10.5 to 21.5 percent deducted from their payments to reimburse the Medicare program.
The initial payments will be about half of the total amount victims can expect to receive. Final payments will come at a later date after all the administrative and other costs have been deducted.
The $210 million fund includes payments from the owners of NECC, insurance companies and other entities that provided services to NECC.
The $210 million also includes money earmarked only for those victims treated at specific clinics that have reached a settlement in ongoing litigation in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass.
Those amounts range from $3.5 million earmarked for victims treated at a North Carolina clinic to $40 million for those treated at a Virginia health care provider.
The victims were injected with fungus laden preservative free methylprednisolone acetate shipped from the NECC facility.