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Federal judge gives Medicare recipients chance to keep erroneous refunds

[JURIST] US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. [official profile] ruled Thursday that 230,000 recipients of Medicare premium refunds issued in error be given an opportunity to apply for an exemption from repayment [press release, PDF] before the government can collect the money. Kennedy issued a preliminary injunction Dr. Mark McClellan [Wikipedia profile], Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [official website], to stop pursuing repayment of the mistakenly distributed funds, to return money already repaid by recipients, and to notify recipients of the repayment waiver application.

In its argument supporting the injunction, the Center for Medicare Advocacy [advocacy website] contended that the government's attempt to collect the money was a violation of Medicare regulations [PDF text] that exempt repayment when the recipient is not at fault for the incorrect disbursement, and McClellan has already attributed the mistake to a glitch in the Medicare computer systems. The deadline for repayment of the funds, averaging $215 per recipient, was originally set for September 30. The lawsuit leading to the ruling was filed by the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens and the Gray Panthers [advocacy websites]. The New York Times has more.

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