Rebecca Larsen 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Scottsdale attorney Kelly LoCascio has a law practice that handles labor and employment issues, including sexual harassment, age discrimination and retaliation. But the focus of her practice centers around a body of law most attorneys do not include as a part of their practice, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, commonly known as ERISA. Generally speaking, employer-sponsored group health insurance is subject to the federal laws governed by ERISA. ERISA regulations govern the time frames for health plans to decide whether or not to pay benefits under a claim, what information plans must disclose when they decide to deny benefits, and the process for handling appeals within a health plan. For plans that are fully-funded, state laws may apply in addition to ERISA and may give providers and members additional rights to appeal to an independent entity outside of their health plan. She finds that her clients are often confused about the complexities and regulations of ERISA. The case law and its progeny offer very little guidance as courts across the country have interpreted the language of these cases very differently. Before a client is able to even consider the litigation aspects of their case, they must first exhaust the mandatory administrative appeals process set forth by their carrier. ERISA allows insurance companies to rigorously enforce deadlines for filing appeals after they have initially refused claims. It’s vital that providers and patients meet those appeal dates or they will be handicapped in achieving a victory. “Unfortunately, health insurance companies frequently deny coverage for health benefits when they should be paid,” LoCascio said. “They deny claims knowing patients may not understand the intricacies of ERISA law, are too involved with their health, or just get tired of the legal fight. It’s very difficult for members of insurance plans or providers to try to handle these cases themselves and interpret the fine print in their health-care policies. My goal is to work out these cases with the insurance company and reach settlements for my clients. If we have to go to court, it is a whole new ball game that plays out in a manner completely unlike civil litigation.” Working with the details of ERISA was a part of LoCascio’s job in her previous position as CEO and General Counsel of Angel MedFlight in Scottsdale, an air ambulance provider that performs medical transfers for patients and their families. Besides coordinating domestic and international air medical transports, Angel MedFlight provides commercial medical escorts, ground ambulance services and discretionary insurance benefit assistance. Founded in 2006, the company has been one of the fastest growing young firms in Scottsdale. In her role as General Counsel, LoCascio took on heated battles with large insurance companies on behalf of critically ill patients in order to ensure that, per their plan, the air medical transport was properly processed . Phoenix attorney Robert Barry of Burdman & Shore, PLLC, said he had met LoCascio about eight years ago when she was representing the defendant in a construction defect case and he was on the plaintiff ’s side. “Kelly is a very talented litigator,” Barry said, “and a bright and efficient lawyer. She’s a brilliant oral advocate and just as effective as a written advocate.” Barry frequently consults with LoCascio about cases he is working on. “LoCascio is probably one of the pre-eminent minds in the state regarding the area of ERISA law,” says Barry. Before joining Angel MedFlight as in-house counsel and CEO, LoCascio worked for Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite representing large corporations in various commercial litigation matters. She is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel. She has been featured in the Arizona Business Journal, Arizona Woman and Phoenix Magazine for her professional accomplishments. Originally from South Dakota, LoCascio has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
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