BCBS Lobbyists Look to Limit Medicare Insurers’ Liability
As Congress hands out "last-minute legislative favors," the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is lobbying for legislation that would limit the liability of health insurance companies that review and pay Medicare claims, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, insurance lobbyists helped draft legislation that would authorize the government to reimburse insurance companies for damages, settlements and legal expenses from lawsuits brought on by their work as Medicare contractors. The House Energy and Commerce Committee drafted the expanded measure in September but "made changes to address the concerns" of the BCBSA. The House last week passed legislation (HR 3391) that contains "some but not all of the insurers' requests," and insurance lobbyists are now "pressing their case" in the Senate. HHS Inspector General Janet Rehnquist objected to the legislation, saying it "would not fully protect the Medicare trust fund from misconduct" by contractors. The Times reports that "at least eight Medicare contractors have paid more than $275 million to the government to settle charges that they made improper payments, altered documents, hid files and backdated records" (Pear, New York Times, 12/18).