Hospitals Can Recover Costs in the National Opioid Epidemic Litigation
Hospital emergency departments have been drafted to the frontlines of the opioid crisis.
They not only serve as the primary healthcare facilities for first responders to bring suspected cases of opioid-related overdoses, but they also serve as the primary medical treatment for persons lacking insurance and/or primary care physicians.
These patients are sicker at presentation and their expenses are rapidly increasing. However, much of this care goes unreimbursed or reimbursed well under the cost of care.
Of course, the opioid crisis has not just affected adults; indeed, some of its most vulnerable victims have been babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. While many state Medicaid programs provide some reimbursement to hospitals for such care, the vast majority of the care remains un- or under-compensated.
Our hospital clients are concerned that funds being set aside for such future care may never find their way to the front lines. This concern is not theoretical; a recent study of the tobacco settlement fund found that only 3% of the monies distributed to states were actually used for tobacco-related healthcare and prevention. Our hospital clients believe that any monies paid by the opioid manufacturers and distributors (of which approximately $1 billion has already been paid in settlements and fines over the last few years), should actually go toward treating those with opioid-related addiction and preventing such addiction in the first place.
Accordingly, as counsel representing hospital clients, we work together with a medical team to best shape forward-looking relief that is likely to be negotiated as part of the resolution of the national opioid-epidemic litigation and proceedings so hospital networks are compensated for past and future unreimbursed care.
The question for our hospital clients has not been whether to become involved in the opioid litigation. They already are. Every hospital in the United States has been named as a putative class member in a class action lawsuit brought by a small hospital in rural southwest Mississippi. Accordingly, the question for our hospital clients has been whether they want their own voice in these proceedings and their own seat at the table to determine the fate of their own claims and be the master of their own future.
That’s how we help.
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General Counsel Background:
Opioid Epidemic Hits Hospitals Hard
The cost of an opioid-related ICU admission rose from an average of $58,517 to $92,408 between 2009 and 2015. And critically ill overdose patients required renal transplant therapy 37% more often in 2015 than 2009.
More than 100 people die a day in the U.S. from opioid-related overdoses. For every opioid-related death, there are on average 10 hospital admissions for abuse, 26 emergency department visits for misuse, 108 people who are dependent on opioids, and 733 non-medical users.
In a May 2012 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 80 percent of adults who visited hospital emergency departments (EDs) over a 12-month period said they did so because of a lack of access to other healthcare providers.
It’s Not Just Adults…
Today, an opioid-addicted baby is born in the U.S. every 19-25 minutes.
Among 28 states with publically available data as provided by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project between 1999-2013, the overall syndrome incidents increased 300% from 1.5 per 1,000 hospital births in 1999 to 6.0 per 1,000 hospital births in 2013.
Average hospitalization is 28 days for opioid-addicted newborns. A 2015 review of data showed costs for medical treatment while hospitalized was between $159,000- $238,000 per newborn. Cost of treatment rose from $1.1 million in the first year to $1.5 million in the second year and to $1.8 million in the third year.
The team’s lead attorneys for litigation recovery, Phil Cramer and Barry J. Cooper have represented thousands of clients and recovered billions of dollars for their clients through repeated success in high-stakes litigation. They are the ideal litigation recovery team in this nation’s opioid crisis.
Stuart H. Smith, Chief Strategist
Stuart has practiced law for nearly 25 years, litigating against oil companies and other energy-related corporations for damages associated with radioactive oil field waste. Smith also has extensive jury trial experience in both federal and state courts in addition to handling multi-district litigation (“MDL”) civil cases, including the Deepwater Horizon Spill, Vioxx Products Liability Litigation, and the Propulsid Product Liability Litigation. Smith is well known for his role as lead counsel in an oil field radiation case that resulted in a verdict of $1.056 billion against ExxonMobil for contamination and cover up of land it leased from the Grefer family in Louisiana. Smith is one of the largest donors to the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and founder of the Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at the university’s Broadway campus
Phil Cramer, a managing partner of Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison, specializes in corporate plaintiff’s recovery cases and has worked on behalf of numerous Fortune 500 Companies to successfully recover hundreds of millions of dollars in direct action/opt out litigation. Prior to private practice, Phil was a trial attorney at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and he has received numerous awards for this successful litigation in high profile civil rights cases.