In the realm of Medicare Secondary Payer reporting and reimbursement obligations, U.S. v. Stricker, pending in Alabama, is the case hanging on everyone’s lips. But a tasty morsel has come down that you can chomp into now – an Arizona federal judge has allowed discovery to go ahead in a putative class action challenging MSP recovery policy and procedures.

Without waiting for reply briefs to be filed, U.S. District Judge David C. Bury of the District of Arizona has granted plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery in Patricia Haro, et al., v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 09-134).

He denied U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ motion to limit judicial review to the administrative record for the plaintiffs’ individual claims. Contrary to the Secretary’s argument that there is no need to deviate from the norm of limiting review to the administrative record, he said this case “is not the norm.”

The Court will not be considering the individual MSP claims as this case turns on the procedural and policy decisions implemented by the Secretary, he said. Therefore, a factual record for each claimant is not necessary to address the issue, which is a procedure and policy challenge, he said.

The issue at hand, he said, is “one purely of statutory construction in respect to whether or not the Secretary exceeds the authority granted her under the law, both the Medicare Act, as amended in 1980 adopting the MSP program, and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.”

“Without admitting it, the Defendant recognizes the need for discovery beyond the normal administrative record. As part of the administrative record, Defendant included documents that relate to the MSP recovery process,” he added.

Judge Bury estimated that discovery could be completed in four months, unless class certification results in a longer period for discovery. Discovery is due by Aug. 16.

This is just one of the dozens of stories I’m working on this month. A full story will appear in the May edition of HB’s Medicare Secondary Payer newsletter – check it out and subscribe! The April edition included an interview with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, updates on the newly introduced MSP reform bill, pending and new cases, how to handle obtaining sensitive information for querying and reporting, and more.

Your editor, Vivi.