December 26, 2012

Congress passes Senator Portman's SMART Act

Bill Now Goes to President's Desk for Signature

Washington, D.C. – Before adjourning for Christmas, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio)’s bipartisan Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act, clearing the way for President Obama to sign the legislation into law.  This commonsense legislation, which passed as part of H.R. 1845, the Medicare IVIG Access Act, makes it more efficient for patients, health care providers, and insurers to settle disputes and lawsuits.

“I am pleased that the SMART Act received support from both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate,” Portman said.  “This bill will help strengthen and protect Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust Fund by improving and increasing efficiency within the Medicare Secondary Payer system.  With Washington's sky high debt and deficit, we need to do everything we can to ensure that entitlement programs such as Medicare are cost effective and working for the very people they were designed to help.”

Before the SMART Act was passed, the Federal government did not provide Medicare repayment amounts until after parties had settled any disputes or lawsuits.  Coupled with complicated reporting and reimbursement obligations, this inefficiency makes it difficult for parties to settle.  The SMART Act improves efficiency by providing a method through which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can inform settling parties of their Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) amount before settling.  The SMART Act also provides settling parties with a right of appeal if they disagree with CMS' repayment request.

The SMART Act, originally introduced as S.1718 in the U.S. Senate, also increases efficiency by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to determine a threshold below which MSP rules will not apply.  This ensures that the government will not spend more money pursuing a MSP claim than it could recover from that claim.

Finally, the SMART Act also directs CMS to phase out the use of social security numbers and health ID claims numbers for the purpose of MSP reporting and clarifies that a three-year statute of limitations covers all MSP claims.