CMS must stop collection of $50 million in Medicare overpayments, judge says

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A federal District Court judge in the nation's capital has ordered the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to stop trying to collect some $50 million from Medicare beneficiaries who mistakenly received Part D premium refunds.

CMS was in the process of collecting the money from about 230,000 Medicare beneficiaries who received erroneous premiums paid for prescription drug benefit coverage last month because of a computer error. Judge Henry Kennedy said many of the beneficiaries might qualify for waivers since repayment could cause financial hardship. He ordered CMS officials to send a notice to beneficiaries informing them of their rights under federal law to request waivers.

The judge also ordered that any money already paid to the government "must be immediately returned to the beneficiaries so that they may decide whether to request waiver." Erroneous payments averaged $215 each.