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Cardiac Rehabilitation and Physician Supervision

Published on 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

 | Coding 
 | Billing 
Did You Know?

In response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, the CMS has published several Interim Final Rules with comment period (IFC). Included in the April 6, 2020 IFC, (, with respect to pulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation, and intensive cardiac rehabilitation services, CMS adopted a change, “to specify that direct supervision for these services includes virtual presence through audio/video real-time communications technology when use of such technology is indicated to reduce exposure risks for the beneficiary or health care provider.”

The CY 2021 OPPS Final Rule finalized maintaining this policy change being until the end of the PHE or December 31, 2021, whichever is later. The PHE was renewed on October 15, 2021, meaning this change will remain in place at least through January 13, 2022.

CMS again references this policy change in the CY 2022 OPPS Final Rule (, noting, “the required direct physician supervision can be provided through virtual presence using audio/video real-time communications technology (excluding audio-only) subject to the clinical judgment of the supervising practitioner.”

Why This Matters?

With the recent release of the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule, MMP has had clients ask if CMS will make this option for audio/video real-time physician supervision for these rehabilitation services permanent. Specific to this question, I have listed a few comments by the CMS in the CY 2022 OPPS/ASC final rule:

  • Commentors are in favor of adoption of direct supervision via two-way, audio/video communication technology on a permanent basis, or if the decision is made to end this flexibility, they encourage CMS to maintain this policy for a period following the COIVD-19 PHE, such as the end of 2022.
  • Most commentors were in favor of developing a service-level modifier to allow CMS to track and collect data.
  • Based on public comments, and feedback since the policy was implemented, CMS is convinced “that we need more information on the issues involved with direct supervision through virtual presence before implementing this policy permanently.”

Whether or not this policy becomes permanent, facilities providing cardiac rehabilitation services need to be aware of and compliant with coverage requirements for a couple of reasons. First, this continues to be an area of focus for Medicare review contractors. Second, given that according to the CDC (, heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year from 2016 to 2017, cardiac rehabilitation is big business. You can read more about how cardiac rehabilitation can help heal your heart on the CDC website (

So, just how big of a business is cardiac rehabilitation? To answer this question, I turned to RealTime Medicare Data (RTMD). Specifically, volume and paid claims data below represent Medicare Fee-for-Service outpatient hospital claims in the entire RTMD footprint for calendar years 2019 and 2020 for cardiac rehabilitation CPT codes 93798 (outpatient cardiac rehab with continuous ECG monitoring) and 93979 (outpatient cardiac rehab without continuous ECG monitoring).

CY 2019 Procedure Volume % Of Procedure Volume Sum of Paid Claims
CPT 93798 3,718,721 94.00% $307,007,481.00
CPT 93797 239,673 6.00% $19,584,844.68
Combined 3,958,394 100.00% $326,592,325.68

CY 2019 Top 5 States by Procedure Volume

  • Florida (292,461)
  • Texas (287,575)
  • California (229,235)
  • Illinois (186,899), and
  • Pennsylvania (164,897)
CY 2020 Procedure Volume % Of Procedure Volume Sum of Paid Claims
CPT 93798 2,290,837 94.00% $178,236,580.99
CPT 93797 150,097 6.00% $11,486,994.57
Combined 2,440,934 100.00% $189,723,575.56

CY 2020 Top 5 States by Procedure Volume

  • Florida (182,865),
  • Texas (180,179),
  • California (131,190),
  • Illinois (120,897), and
  • Pennsylvania (105,882)

Even though the COVID-19 PHE had an impact on procedure volume and sum of paid claims, collectively across the country, Medicare payment for cardiac rehabilitation is big business.

What Can You Do?
  • Be aware of documentation needed to support medical necessity of the services provided,
  • Submit medical record requests to the Medicare Contractor in a timely manner, and
  • Read a related article in this week’s newsletter to learn who is currently targeting Cardiac Rehabilitation and what coverage documents and education resources are available by CMS and Medicare Contractors.
Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.