October 19, 2018
Stephen Bittinger, a health care reimbursement attorney based in Charleston, South Carolina, was recently featured in a Bloomberg Law article. The article, “Medicare Payment Freeze Tactics Stymied by Small Health Practices,” takes a look at the impact of the preliminary injunctions recently put into place to provide relief to some small providers as they challenge the Medicare agency's repayment claims.
“I’ve watched this disaster grow and I’ve worked with thousands of practices that have collapsed while waiting,” Stephen Bittinger, an attorney in Nexsen Pruet’s Health Care Practice Group in Charleston,S.C., told Bloomberg Law. He said he has seen this dynamic cause marriages to break and hundreds of people to lose their jobs.
Bittinger successfully represented Accident, Injury and Rehabilitation, a chiropractic group, in getting a preliminary injunction Sept. 27 to stop the HHS from recouping Medicare money. Judge Donald Coggins Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina granted the injunction in Accident, Injury & Rehab., P.C. v. Azar, No. 18-cv-2173, 2018 BL 351493 (D.S.C. 9/27/18), finding it would be in the public interest to prevent further recoupment so the practice could continue providing health services while its appeal proceeds.
“For all of the medical entities and private practices out there for which this would be financially crushing, now there’s a chance to stop it,” Bittinger said.
The court in Accident, Injury and Rehabilitation piggybacked off a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Family Rehab., Inc. v. Azar, No. 17-cv-3008, 2018 BL 231808 (N.D. Tex.6/28/18), which said that withholding more Medicare money would irreparably harm the practice while it awaits a hearing. Both courts also found the potential harm to the practices outweighed any harm to the government.
Bittinger pointed out that, while Accident, Injury and Rehab has paid over $1.8 million so far, because of the interest rate that applies to such obligations, the CMS still wants close to the original demand of $6.6 million. According to Bittinger, based on the average wait time, it could be over a year-and-a-half until the practice finally gets an administrative hearing.
Stephen Bittinger, Esq. is a Member of Nexsen Pruet based in Charleston, South Carolina. Stephen is admitted in Ohio, has admission pending in North Carolina and the District of Columbia. He will be sitting for the SC Bar exam in February 2019. He currently practices on Federal Law matters only.
Nexsen Pruet is one of the largest law firms in the Carolinas, with more than 190 attorneys and offices in Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as well as Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina. Founded in 1945, Nexsen Pruet provides a broad range of legal services to the business community and represents companies and other entities in local, state, national and international venues.