MSP Recovery’s Ocean Harbor Class Certification Attempt Backfires: 3rd Circuit Court Declines to Certify Class of Florida Medicare Advantage Plans


Recall MSP Recovery LLC, a law firm out of Miami, Florida that has been initiating numerous class action litigation country-wide as assignees on behalf of Medicare Advantage Plans (MAPs) alleging that various primary payers have failed to reimburse MAP conditional payments allegedly giving rise to a Private Cause of Action under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP), specifically located at 42 USC §1395y(b)(3)(A). The decision can be found here.

In a decision just issued out of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Ocean Harbor Cas. Ins. v. Claims, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 13569 (September 26, 2018), the Court found that the trial court erred in certifying the class of Florida MAPs. Because MSP Recovery (the technical legal Plaintiff in this action is MSPA Claims 1, LLC, however shall be referred to as MSP Recovery herein) asserts that Ocean Harbor was responsible as a primary plan not due to pre-existing settlements, but simply due to the entry of no-fault insurance contracts under Florida’s no-fault statutes, this would involve a series of mini-trials which would need to be assessed on a case by case basis, and accordingly class certification was not appropriate.

There are a few interesting discussions in this 3rd Circuit decision which primary plans should take away, particularly if the primary plan is currently subject to litigation by MSP Recovery involving no-fault claims:

-MSP Recovery (or Medicare Advantage Plans) recovery rights are not automatic without “demonstrated responsibility.” The MSP does not eliminate the terms and conditions of an underlying state No-Fault law or supersede an existing state insurance policy. Here, MSP Recovery has attempted to show “demonstrated responsibility” under the MSP by “the other means” language of the MSP (since there is no settlement, judgment or award). Demonstrated responsibility by other means must be demonstrated under the state’s no-fault laws and the actual no-fault policy and must be proven on a case-by-case basis.

-What is also interesting about this decision is the discussion of whether Ocean Harbor failed to exhaust administrative remedies. MSP Recovery claims that it made an “organization determination” that Ocean Harbor owed the conditional payments and it could have challenged these payments pursuant to 42 CFR § 422.566. The court noted that there is nothing in the regulations that provides a federal administrative remedy for a primary plan like Ocean Harbor to challenge such an “organization determination.” The regulation cited by MSP Recovery only applies to claims by an enrollee (MAP beneficiary) against the MAP.  While the SMART Act did finally afford primary plans with formal appeal rights, this appeals process only applies to conditional payments made under traditional Medicare Parts A and B. Accordingly, there is no method for primary plans to administratively contest an allegation by MSP Recovery/MAPs that it was responsible to make a particular payment.

Commentary: This decision reinforces the current conundrum facing primary plans in MAP private cause of action double damages litigation. Medicare Advantage Plans desire the benefits of acting like traditional Medicare in seeking the ability to sue and recover double damages for unreimbursed conditional payments.

But, MAPs cannot have the benefits of acting like Medicare without carrying the burdens and providing due process to primary plans. MAPs need to afford primary plans with a formal appeal process if they want to act like Medicare.

And even more importantly, primary plans need a reliable source to determine whether their claimants are enrolled in a MAP. Currently, Medicare only returns traditional Medicare enrollment to primary plans. This is precisely why Franco Signor strongly supports the MARC Coalition and The Provide Accurate Information Directly (PAID) Act which seeks to require Medicare to return Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), Medicare Part D, and Medicaid enrollment information to primary plans so that liens can be identified and timely addressed. To learn more about the MARC Coalition and how you can support the PAID Act, visit

About the Author

Heather Schwartz, Esq., MSCC, CHPE, CLMP, CMSP

Heather Schwartz Sanderson, Esq., MSCC, CHPE, CLMP, CMSP

Heather is Chief Legal Officer for Franco Signor LLC, the nation's compliance authority for Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) matters. She has lectured on MSP compliance to the workers' compensation and liability insurance communities at conferences, associations, and individual offices nationwide. She is a regularly published author on court decisions and legislative reforms involving Medicare Set-Asides, conditional payments, and Mandatory Insurer Reporting issues. Understanding that compliance with the Medicare Secondary Payer Act can be at times complex and frustrating for those that handle claims with Medicare beneficiaries, Heather's goal is to speak and write with the primary goal being simple and understandable solutions to compliance. 

Heather can be reached at
Franco Signor's Blog can be found at:

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