NOTE: All in-article links open in a new tab.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy

Published on 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

 | Coding 
 | Billing 

Did You Know?

CAR T-cell Therapy entails the use of CAR T-cells that have been genetically altered to improve the ability of the T-cells to fight cancer. The genetic modification creating a CAR can enhance the ability of the T-cell to recognize and attach to a specific protein, called an antigen, on the surface of a cancer cell.

In 2017, the FDA gave approval to two CAR T-cell therapies (Kymriah® and Yescarta®). Effective October 1, 2018, both therapies were approved for new-technology add-on payments with a maximum add-on payment of $186,500.

Effective for claims with dates of service on or after August 7, 2019, Medicare began covering autologous treatment for cancer with T-cells expressing at least 1 Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) when the treatment is:

  • Administered at healthcare facilities enrolled in the FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), and
  • Is used for a medically accepted indication as defined at section 1861(t)(2)-i.e., or
  • Is used for either an FDA-approved indication (according to the FDA-approved label for that product, or for other uses when the product has been FDA-approved and the use is supported in one or more CMS-approved compendia.

Not surprisingly, CAR T-cell therapy is expensive. So much so that CMS clinical advisors noted in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 IPPS proposed rule that they had found a vast discrepancy in resource consumption and clinical differences warranting the creation of new MS-DRG. Effective October 1, 2020, CAR T-cell therapy had its own MS-DRG 018 (Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy).

In the current CMS FY 2022, MS-DRG 018 has a relative weight of 37.4501. On the October 1, 2022, start date of the CMS 2023 FY, MS-DRG 018 will once again have the highest relative weight at 36.1452.

Since 2017, the FDA has approved additional CAR T-cell therapies. Three of these are eligible for a New Technology Add-On Payment (NTAP) in Fiscal Year 2023:

  • ABECMA® and CARVYKTI ™ to treat patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma with a maximum add-on payment of $289,532.75, and
  • TECARTUS® to treat relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma with a maximum add-on payment of $259,350.00.

Why it Matters?

In addition to CMS guidance, several of the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) have published guidance regarding CAR T-cell therapy. If your hospital provides this service, I encourage you to become familiar with both CMS and the MACs guidance.

CMS Guidance
  • National Coverage Determination Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy (NCD 110.24): (link)
  • MLN Matters Article National Coverage Determination (NCD 110.24): Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy – This CR Rescinds and Fully Replaces CR 11783 (MM12177): (link)
  • MLN Matters Article Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-Cell Therapy Revenue Code and HCPCS Setup Revisions (SE19009): (link)
  • MLN Matters Article International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) and Other Coding Revisions to National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) – January 2023 Update: link)
    • Note: Revisions to NCD 110.24 include updated codes and coding guidance for all currently available CAR T-cell therapies.
MAC Specific Guidance
  • CGS J15 (KY and OH) Article (link)
  • NGS JK (CT, NY, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) FAQs (link)
  • Novitas JH (AR, CO, LA, MS, MN, OK, TX) Article (link)
Article Author: Anita Meyers, RHIT, CCS
Anita Meyers, RHIT, CCS, is an Inpatient Coding Professional at Medical Management Plus. Anita has over twenty-six years of experience in inpatient and outpatient coding including 17 years of work at AQAF reviewing inpatient and outpatient records from Alabama hospitals. In addition to reviewing records she was the team leader in Beneficiary Services where she participated in case review activities, received and processed beneficiary complaints and handled fee-for-service denials for home health, hospice and skilled nursing facility services. Prior to joining the MMP team, Anita left AQAF to become an inpatient contract coder and worked at various hospitals in central Alabama. In her current position, Anita is an integral part of the Inpatient Services at Medical Management Plus.

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.