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Man who lost leg in biking accident turns to Howard for help with Medicare bills

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LONG ISLAND (PIX11) -- August 13, 2010. Friday the 13th. The day changed Bill Evans’ life.

The East Rockaway resident was riding his motorcycle when a car suddenly turned left in front of him. Bill went over the hood.

His left leg had to be amputated at the knee. He’s since had two hip surgeries and more physical therapy than he can remember.

He had a lawsuit going with an attorney who’d been recommended to him, Howard Sklar of Carle Place, Long Island. That just led to more problems. The case apparently just sat and Sklar wound up getting disbarred for mishandling his escrow account.

Bill never got a penny. Then, Medicare came calling. It wanted Bill to be reimburse some $72,000 for his medical care. So Bill, an accident victim, not only lost a leg but also stood to be out of pocket tens of thousands of dollars

Bill tried to get Medicare to see the facts. But his pleas fell on deaf ears. A letter from attorney Sklar admitting that Bill never got any money was basically ignored, even though it suggested coming after his frozen escrow account instead. The feds even seized a couple hundred dollar tax refund Bill was due.

He was desperate and turned to us.

We contacted the agency that collects the debts, the Treasury Department’s Debt Management Services division. They’re on the ball but told us they just collect the debts. So we were referred over to the agency that initiated the debt collection, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Dealing with Medicare directly? In all honesty we expected a long, protracted back and forth effort would be necessary. But we received a really pleasant surprise.

CMS understood the situation right away. In less than a week (and trust us, that is no time at all when dealing with the federal government), Bill received a phone call saying Medicare would stop collection efforts and consider his debt paid.

Great job resolving this by CMS! They deserve a lot of credit on this one. And, Bill, who keeps a remarkably cheery attitude, is pretty happy, too.

“Howie, I wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart," he told me. “I don’t know how you did it, but you did it! You and your team.”

Howard: We have a good one! What does this mean for you now?

Bill: Ahh…stress off my back. We were gonna cancel our vacation to the Dominican Republic. Now we can go!

And I don’t even mind Bill calling me “Howie.”