The Strengthening Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers Act (SMART Act) was signed into law in January 2013, to improve the efficiency of the Medicare Secondary Payer system. Once the Act is implemented, there will be an establishment of a web portal where Medicare beneficiaries, their attorneys or other representatives may access information related to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conditional payment amounts.
The SMART Act imposes strict timelines for Medicare to seek reimbursement, or it loses its right for recoupment. Under the Act, CMS is required to develop a payment process that takes 120 days from beginning to end. During this period, CMS has a 65 day response period to provide a final reimbursement number. However, now that CMS is in the process of implementing the SMART Act, they have weakened it by issuing a new ruling.
The Interim Final Rule (IFR) issued by CMS extends the payment process well beyond the 120 day deadline to potentially 245 days. This IRF will cause many settlements to break down. The Risk Management Society (RIMS) has stated that the IFR issued by CMS “would defeat the finality the SMART Act was intended to achieve.” They “strongly urge CMS to withdraw the Interim Final Rule and to reissue a proposed rule through the normal rulemaking process” (read full report here).
When law firms are dealing with ever changing rules and regulations, having a knowledgeable, professional third party that they can work with is becoming increasingly important when settling their cases. As you can see with the changes in the SMART Act, having a partner to assist you and take on the burden of these changes can increase your firm’s overall productivity.