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NEWS | July 24, 2013

MCRP collects $2 million for Air Force

By Airman Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Through military medical treatment facilities and programs such as TRICARE, the Air Force has been able to provide medical care for its past and present Airmen and their dependents.

MTFs and TRICARE cost the Department of Defense billions of dollars each year performing everyday activities such as routine check-ups, treating illnesses and taking care of accident and injury victims. In a case where a third party is responsible for an Airman's accident or injury, the Air Force has appointed the Air Force Legal Operations Agency Medical Cost Reimbursement Program as representatives to pursue these claims.

"The Medical Reimbursement Program is a judge advocate general initiative for the collection of third party liability claims," said Delvin Whitlock, Medical Cost Reimbursement Program regional chief. "These are claims where an active duty military, retiree of the Air Force or dependent is involved in any type of accident or incident in which the Air Force has to pay for those medical costs. Under the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act, we can pursue reimbursement of the costs for that medical treatment from liable third parties and their insurance companies."

MCRP boasts a staff of 54 paralegals and four attorneys serving eight regions across America. At Langley Air Force Base, Va., Whitlock leads a team of seven paralegals responsible for managing all cases that occur in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. In fiscal year 2012, the team collected $2.3 million of the $20.2 million collected by all eight regions. So far, the team has collected $2 million of the $16.6 million collected across the U.S. for the Air Force for the current fiscal year. The Funds are deposited directly back to the MTFs and TRICARE to help support the cost of future medical treatment to Service members in both on and off base medical facilities.

Claims pursued by the MCRP can range from car accidents to dog bites. Referrals are usually received through MTFs, TRICARE and attorneys of injured Service members. The MCRP must also be notified when a Service member is injured and is not able to perform his or her job, resulting in lost wages and time. In these cases, the unit of the injured member will be reimbursed for time lost.

The MCRP does not pursue claims against Service members, but requires their support in order to pursue these cases on behalf of the Air Force, helping preserve medical benefits for future generations.

"We are looking out for injured [Service] members," said Whitlock. "A lot of times, it's injured [Service] members that suffer because medical records or bills don't get to their attorney to be used in their personal injury claims. We provide injured parties with valuable information regarding procedures and their entitlements in an injury claim, helping them to receive a fair and proper settlement. We're also, bringing money back to the Air Force that helps with the operating expenses of medical benefits."

It is essential for Service members to cooperate with the MCRP in order to save the Air Force money. By acquiring essential facts about an accident or incident, the MCRP will be able to obtain proper reimbursement of costs, which in turn will provide MTF professionals and TRICARE advisors with more resources to perform the mission.

"The cost of health care is tremendous," added Larry Passwaters, a paralegal claims specialist. "If we can collect some of that money, it can keep the amount needed by MTFs and TRICARE down and save the taxpayers and the Air Force money."

The AFLOA MCRP, Region 2 is located in building 15 located at 45 Nealy Avenue, Suite 227 in the Mission Support Group building on Langley-Eustis. Their personnel can be contacted at (757)764-7938 or (757)764-7939 or via telefax at (757)764-4655.