Updated Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Portal User Guide Released

This post is written by James Martinez of Optum Settlement Solutions.

On July 2, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released limited changes in version 4.2 of its Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Portal (MSPRP) User Guide. This new information aims to provide electronically current and consistent conditional payment information.  In addition, the portal information is designed to help settling parties involving Medicare beneficiaries expedite the process.

Noteworthy revisions:

  • §13.1.1 describes a new Letter Activity tab on the Case Information page that will display all correspondence that has been received, or letters that have been sent related to a BCRC or CRC case in one place.  This new functionality provides the user with three choices as to how to view correspondence received and letters sent.  The user has an option to see this information as follows: “all correspondence received and all letters”, “correspondence received” or “letters sent”, thereby better enabling the viewer to follow the progress of the case thereby reducing BCRC and CRC phone calls to check case status.
  • (Table 13-8) Lists the primary diagnosis code in bold font on the Payment Summary Form (PSF) in cases where Medicare Part A claims do not have a HCPCS or DRG code associated with them. When the primary diagnosis code is bolded, the HCPCS/DRG column will be blank.
  • §13.1.5 allows insurers, recovery agents shown on the Tax Identification Number (TIN) reference file, and insurer representatives with a verified Recovery Agent Authorization to request electronic conditional payment letters (eCPLs) for BCRC and CRC insurer-debtor cases so long as logged in using multi-factor authentication process.
  • §8.3.2 was added to help account managers (AMs) to identify which active designees are using the portal or should be deleted when they have long periods of inactivity. The AMs can view the last login date column added to the designee listing page to confirm.

When conditional payment information is unknown or unreliable, settlements are delayed. The minor changes are expected to provide the parties with an accurate case status, specific to the conditional payment recovery claim. Optum Settlement Solutions will review and test the changes and make recommendations as discovery becomes known.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Aimovig™

On May 17, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aimovig™ (erenumab-aooe) for the preventive treatment of migraines in adults. Aimovig (erenumab-aooe) is the first FDA approved drug in a new class of drugs that are classified as calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor blockers. The calcitonin gene related peptide receptor (CGRP-R) is associated with migraine headache. This new agent aids in reducing the number of headache days a month.

Aimovig was approved for the preventative treatment of migraines in adults based on evidence of three placebo controlled clinical trials. More than 3,000 patients participated in the efficacy and safety tests. Between the three studies, patients experienced one to two and one-half fewer migraines per month as compared to placebo. The most common side effects reported in clinical trials were injection site reactions and constipation. The discontinuation rate is listed at two percent. Ongoing open label extension studies will continue for up to five years.

Aimovig, developed in partnership by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Amgen, Inc., is expected on the market in a week. Aimovig is administered once monthly by self-injection in either a 70 mg or a 140 mg dose. The U.S. list price according to Novartis is $575.00 for a once monthly 70 mg or 140 mg self-administered injection ($6,900 annually). The Redbook average wholesale price (AWP) pricing is not yet published. The pricing of Aimovig is comparable to the cost of botulinum toxin (Botox) 200 units every three months with an annual cost of $5,768. This cost does not include the in-office Botox administration provider fee. Botox is FDA approved for chronic migraine prophylaxis.

With the commonality of migraine headaches in workers’ compensation and liability claims, adjusters are likely to see the use of this medication in the near future. We expect that, similar to the criteria of botulinum toxin for prevention of chronic migraine, Aimovig users will have failed more conservative first line therapy (amitriptyline, beta-blockers, topiramate and valproic acid derivatives). At this time, there is no evidence for the use of botulinum toxin and Aimovig for chronic migraine prevention.

Optum will provide updates as new medications enter the marketplace as well as details on their impact on settlements.

View highlights of prescribing information here.

Additional sources:

  1. FDA approves new drug for preventive treatment of migraine in adults- Drug Information Update Available at: Aimovig Accessed May 18, 2018.
  2. Novartis and Amgen announce FDA approval of Aimovig™ (erenumab-aooe), a novel treatment developed specifically for migraine prevention. Available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/novartis-and-amgen-announce-fda-approval-of-aimovig-erenumab-aooe-a-novel-treatment-developed-specifically-for-migraine-prevention-300650779.html. Accessed May 18, 2018.
  3. The Workloss Data Institute. The Official Disability Guidelines (ODG). http://www.disabilitydurations.com/. Accessed May 2018.

Prescription drug updates may positively affect Medicare Set Aside

As part of our best business practices, we continually monitor RED BOOK®Average Wholesale Price (AWP) of the most common medications present in Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside (WCMSA) arrangements. This practice assists in identifying price changes positively affecting WCMSAs.

The month of May brought price drops for several different strengths of gabapentin, commonly used to treat neuropathic pain.

The products in the following table have a reduced AWP, confirmed in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) WCMSA portal.

Product Name NDC Code Dosage Form Strength AWP Unit Price Reduction
Gabapentin 10135-0646-05


CAP 400 mg $0.07
Gabapentin 10135-0647-05


TAB 600 mg $2.01
Gabapentin 10135-0648-05 TAB 800 mg $0.37

Please note that RED BOOK AWP is subject to change and this pricing is subject to an increase or decrease in the future.  

CMS uses the lowest AWP when reviewing a WCMSA. The lower price of these medications will immediately affect the prescription costs for WCMSAs (both present as well as prior WCMSA’s that have not settled and there is no CMS determination issued). We will contact our clients in reference to previously completed WCMSA’s where these medications have been prescribed. It is our recommendation that carriers, TPAs and claim handlers review cases to determine the benefit from decreased cost of these medications.

Optum will continue to keep the industry informed of changes in AWP pricing, in addition to when generic equivalents enter the market.

New WCRC, Capitol Bridge: Changes and Trends

Capitol Bridge, LLC assumed the reigns as the new Workers’ Compensation Review Contractor (WCRC) on 3/19/2018.

Immediately following the transition to Capitol Bridge, it was noted that they have a different methodology for pricing.  This has caused a slight increase in counter low/high determinations as the industry adjusts to the pricing methodology changes.

In addition to the above, Optum has found the turn around time for completed  WCRC determinations has increased from 9 days to 20 days.  Hopefully this is just a slow down due to the transition and will level out in the near future.

There have been several “hearing loss” cases which have been returned with counter high allocations for future office visits and additional audiograms over the claimant’s life expectancy.  Since Medicare does not cover ongoing office visits or testing once the claimant has been diagnosed with simple hearing loss (no other ear conditions noted), “hearing loss” claims have historically been approved as Zero MSA allocations.  Optum is currently resubmitting these cases for additional review and reconsideration of a Zero MSA allocation due to the error of inclusion of non-Medicare covered items/services.

The above changes appear to be due to the transition to the new contractor and should be temporary.  It was expected that there would be a short adjustment period as a result of the transition.   Optum will continue to report any additional trends we become aware of that will affect WCMSAs in an ongoing effort to keep our clients apprised of changes as they occur.