As we have written before, ERISA as well as other federal and state regulations have continued to pave the way for providers and patients, however, these same regulations can also pave the way for self-insured employer plans as well.
As more and more industry experts and watchdogs begin to see the light, it is extremely critical for all self-insured health plans and TPAs to understand the multi-billion dollar impact TPA/ASO recoveries can have on all self-insured health plans, including state health plans.
Plans should seek to identify and recover any plan assets that have been removed from the plan trust account to pay benefits, but instead have been retained by the TPA as “hidden fees”
This includes alleged overpayments that have been recouped by the TPAs –and have not been disclosed, restored or refunded to the self-insured plan assets as required under federal statutes and fiduciary responsibilities.
On February 20, 2020, Highmark Inc. announced its Financial Investigations and Provider Review (FIPR) Department realized over $260 million in savings and recoveries related to fraud, waste and abuse in 2019. Additionally, Highmark has saved and recovered over $850 million over the past five years. Highmark Health, the parent company of Highmark Inc., recently reported $629 million in consolidated earnings through just the first two quarters of 2019.
The Highmark announcement comes a little over a month after the United States Department of Justice issued a press release announcing it had recovered $2.6 Billion from fraud and false claims in matters related to healthcare for fiscal year 2019.
In the healthcare provider arena the No. 1 health care claim denial in the country today is the overpayment recoupment and claims-offset. Correspondingly, for self-insured health plans, the No. 1 hidden cost is overpayment recoupment and plan assets embezzlement.
The immediate impact of the recent Highmark and Department of Justice announcements, coupled with a 2016 Supreme Court decision could be billions of dollars for self-insured health plans nationwide, as a result of the TPA industry’s potential recovery of billions of dollars in overpayment recoupments and anti-fraud campaigns over the past 10 years.
All self-insured health plans and TPAs should monitor claims data in light of these recent announcements, in view of the fact that almost every TPA for self-insured health plans has engaged in successful overpayment recoupment and offsetting from healthcare providers in today’s multibillion-dollar overpayment recovery and offset industry.
Failure to safeguard plan assets is definitely a fiduciary breach under ERISA, and now the Supreme Court, the United States Department of Justice and Highmark Inc. have given us a legal and practical formula for plan assets recovery, an accessible and legitimate resolution to today’s U.S. healthcare crisis.
As the DOL ramps up audits and enforcement actions in health plan claims and appeals, every self-insured health plan sponsor or fiduciary should keep in mind that they are required to monitor TPA/ASOs successful overpayment recoveries and managed care savings, in order to determine whether:
any of the billions of dollars of successful TPA/ASO overpayment recoupments and offsets nationwide each year are ERISA plan assets
all TPA/ASOs must refund all ERISA plan assets as ERISA prohibits all self-dealing
all self-insured plan administrators are liable for fiduciary breach in failing to safeguard or recover plan assets
The 2016 Supreme Court Montanile decision makes it perfectly clear, any alleged overpayment/lien for a claim in a fully-insured plan cannot attach to a different, self-insured plan fund or claims payment. It’s a basic principle of ERISA that a TPA for a self-insured plan is absolutely barred from converting claims payment/plan assets from the self-insured plan to pay for an alleged overpayment/lien and retain all recovery, for the TPAs own fully-insured account. As alleged in other federal courts, this can be viewed as self-dealing/embezzlement.
The only question now is whether self-insured plan fiduciaries will take immediate corrective actions to safeguard plan assets or wait till the DOL knocks on their door with an audit alert.
In combination with Highmark’s announcement, Avym Corporation offers advanced ERISA Embezzlement Recovery Programs in preparation of the forth-coming multi-billion dollar impact on self-insured health plans nationwide. Specifically the advanced programs will examine the following issues: (1) determine if any TPA overpayment recoupments and offsets, which are in the billions of dollars nationwide, are ERISA plan assets, (2) ensure all TPA’s properly refunded ERISA plan assets as ERISA prohibits all self-dealings, (3) communicate and clarify self-insured plan administrator’s potential liability for fiduciary breach in failing to safeguard or recover plan assets.
These groundbreaking TPA/ASO auditing programs are unique and unlike any other traditional self-insured health plan overpayment auditing programs and are designed to identify and recover any plan assets that have been removed from the plan trust account to pay benefits, but instead have been retained by the TPA as “hidden fees”, including alleged overpayments that have been recouped by the TPAs –and have not been disclosed, restored or refunded to the ERISA self-insured plan assets as required under federal statutes and fiduciary responsibilities.
To learn more about Avym’s ERISA Fiduciary TPA Auditing & Plan Assets Recovery Programs or to contact us about educational programs please click HERE.