Should Accident Victims Recover their Medical Bills Twice?

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Most of us think that accident victims should be able to recover for their medical bills.  But recover twice?  That issue is at the heart of the case argued before the United States Supreme Court on March 1.

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA) empowers the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to contract with private insurance companies to provide health benefits to federal employees.

When federal employee Jodie Nevils was injured in a car wreck, Coventry Health Care paid for his medical care.  When he received a settlement payment from the other driver, Coventry placed a lien on it, as required by the subrogation provision in its contract with the OPM.  Jodie repaid Coventry, satisfying the lien.

Then Jodie filed a class action against Coventry, alleging that Missouri’s common law anti-subrogation doctrine prohibited Coventry from seeking reimbursement.  Coventry relied on the preemption provision of the FEHBA, which says any OPM contract term “shall supersede and preempt any State or local law … which relates to health insurance plans.”

The Missouri Supreme Court rejected Coventry’s argument, ruling that the preemption provision doesn’t apply to state anti-subrogation laws.  The U. S. Supreme Court granted Coventry’s petition for certiorari and heard oral argument on March 1.  Press reports indicate that the justices appeared skeptical of the position taken by Jodie and the Missouri Supreme Court.

If Jodie wins, it means that at least in Missouri, a federal worker can (a) have his medical bills paid by his insurance company and then (b) recover and keep that same amount from the person responsible for the injuries.

The case is Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils, No. 16-149, argued Mar. 1, 2017.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.