In October 2016, CMS made an unannounced policy change which effectively eliminated the ability to obtain a Zero MSA approval from CMS based upon a complete denial of the claim, without a supporting judicial decision. After only a couple weeks, CMS withdrew this policy change and again allowed for approval of Zero MSAs based solely upon a complete claim denial. Nonetheless, these Zero MSAs reviews are placed through the proverbial wringer by CMS such that it is important to understand when a case meets the criteria for a Denied Claim Zero MSA and the documentation required to obtain CMS approval.
Denied Claim Zero MSA Approval Criteria: A Denied Claim Zero MSA (or Legal Zero MSA) approval from CMS is available when the claim has been completely denied with no medical or indemnity payments having been made with the exception of medical payments made for non-treatment purposes such as IMEs, case management and medical records copies (Note, in certain limited situations a Zero MSA may be approved with medical treatment payments having been made. Please consult with Tower MSA).
Importantly, CMS will not approve a Denied Claim Zero MSA if settlement is made final and/or a settlement payment or any medical or indemnity payment is made prior to CMS approval of the Zero MSA. A tentative or agreed to settlement is allowable, but please do not make the settlement final or make indemnity or medical payments prior to CMS approval of the Zero MSA.
If the case meets this criteria, then CMS has strict documentation requirements which must be adhered to or the Zero MSA will be rejected. Notably, since the policy change and rollback occurred in October 2016, CMS has added a requirement to provide claim reserve documentation. The requirement for claim reserve documentation, as well as all other supporting documentation, is detailed below.
Denied Claim Zero MSA documentation requirements: The following documents are required by CMS to obtain approval of a Zero MSA based upon a complete claim denial:
1. Claim Payment History
Provide a copy of the available Claim Payment History with the following statement inserted, signed and dated in the document:
This document provides a complete representation of all payments made on the life of the claim (including medical of $0* and indemnity of $0)
*If medical payments were made, provide the invoices or reports, i.e. IME report, associated with those payments and see below Financial Detail and Denial Letter requirement.
2. Claim Reserves
3. Draft or final settlement documents and court orders or rulings or a statement that no such documents exist
(See below Financial Detail and Denial Letter).
4. First Report of Injury or a statement that no such document exists (See below Financial Detail and Denial Letter).
5. Financial Detail and Denial Letter – Tower MSA will provide draft letter upon request for submission of the Zero MSA to CMS
6. Consent to Release form executed by claimant
While CMS places Zero MSA submissions based upon a complete denial through the wringer, these approvals remain available for workers’ compensation cases meeting the applicable criteria. Please contact Tower MSA Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 331-4941 to refer a claim meeting these requirements or for further consultation.