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

CY 2023 OPPS and ASC Proposed Rule

Published on 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

 | Coding 
 | Billing 

CMS recently released the Calendar Year (CY) Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System proposed rule. In last week’s newsletter (link) we reviewed proposed changes to the Inpatient Only (IPO) List. This week’s focus is on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Covered Procedure List (CPL) and the Hospital Outpatient Prior Authorization Program proposals.

Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) Covered Procedure List (CPL)

The CMS evaluates the ASC CPL yearly to determine whether to add or remove specific procedures from the list. Covered surgical procedures performed on or after January 1, 2022, are:

  • Procedures specified by the Secretary and published in the Federal Register,
  • Separately paid under the OPPS,
  • Would not be expected to post a significant safety risk to a Medicare beneficiary when performed in an ASC, and
  • Standard medical practice dictates the expectation that the beneficiary would not typically require active medical monitoring and care at midnight following the procedure.

For CY 2023, CMS proposed to add one procedure to the ASC CPL:

  • CPT 38531 (Biopsy or excision of lymph node(s); open, inguinofemoral node(s)).

RTMD Data Analysis

I turned to our sister company, RealTime Medicare Data (RTMD) to help estimate the potential impact to hospital outpatients if this procedure can also occur in an ASC setting. The claims data represents Medicare Fee-for-Service paid claims in calendar year 2021 for CPT 38531 for all states in the RTMD footprint. Currently, this includes all states except Kentucky and Ohio.

  • Overall Claims Volume: 4,606
  • CPT Payment: $13,088,298.18
  • Top 5 States
    • California had 411 claims with a payment of $1,468,801.23,
    • Florida had 338 claims with a payment of $939,648.34,
    • Texas had 253 claims with a payment of $705,682.74,
    • Pennsylvania had 245 claims with a payment of $721,419.95, and
    • New York has 229 claims with a payment of $651,816.93.

      CMS ends this section of the proposed rule by noting they “believe that any additions to the CPL should be added in a carefully calibrated fashion to ensure that the procedure is safe to be performed in the ASC setting for a typical Medicare beneficiary. We expect to continue to gradually expand the ASC CPL, as medical practice and technology continue to evolve and advance in future years. We encourage stakeholders to submit procedure recommendations to be added to the ASC CPL, particularly if there is evidence that these procedures meet our criteria and can be safely performed on the typical Medicare beneficiary in the ASC setting.”

      Hospital Outpatient Prior Authorization Program

      The Prior Authorization for Certain Hospital Outpatient Department (OPD) Services initiative became effective on July 1,2020 and made a prior authorization request (PAR) a condition of payment for specific service categories. Service categories effective July 1, 2020, included:

      • Blepharoplasty,
      • Botulinum toxin injections,
      • Panniculectomy,
      • Rhinoplasty, and
      • Vein ablation.

      Effective July 1, 2021, CMS added cervical fusion with disc removal and implanted neurostimulators as new service categories.

      You can learn more about this initiative on the CMS Hospital OPD Services initiative webpage (link).

      CMS has proposed to add Facet Joint Interventions as a new service category and would include facet joint injections, medial branch blocks and facet joint nerve destruction CPT codes. This list of applicable CPT codes is in Table 79 of the proposed rule. If finalized, this would be effective for dates of services on or after March 1, 2023.

      CMS Data Analysis

      CMS performed data analysis of CPT codes 64490-64495 (Facet Injections and Medical Branch Blocks) and CPT Codes 64633-64636 (Nerve destruction services). Analysis revealed facet joint intervention claims volume increased by 47 percent between 2012 and 2021. This reflected a 4 percent average annual increase which is higher than the 0.6 percent annual increase for all outpatient department services.

      Contractor Scrutiny

      As part of the discussion for adding facet joint interventions to this initiative, CMS includes discussion of prior audits performed by the OIG and Department of Justice.

      • OIG Report Medicare Improperly Paid Physicians for More Than Five Spinal Facet-Joint Injections Sessions During a Rolling 12-Month Period (A-09-20-03003) published October 2020 (link): The OIG found that MACs in the 11 jurisdictions with a coverage limitations made improper payments of $748,555.
      • OIG Report Medicare Improperly Paid Physicians for Spinal Facet-Joint Denervation Sessions (A-09-21-03002) published December 2021 (link): The OIG found that Medicare improperly paid physicians $9.5 million.

      In addition to past reports, there are two active OIG Work Plan items related to facet joint procedures.

      • In the Department of Justice case reference in the proposed rule, the DOJ reported on a $250 million health care fraud scheme where “to obtain prescriptions, the evidence showed that the patients had to submit to expensive, unnecessary and sometimes painful back injections, known as facet joint injections.”

      CMS notes, “both our data analysis and research show that the increases in volume for these procedures are unnecessary, and further program integrity action is warranted.”

      RTMD Data Analysis

      I once again turned to RTMD to help estimate the potential impact of adding Facet Joint Interventions to the prior authorization initiative. Keep in mind that data volume includes all procedures and there may be claims that could include multiple facet procedures in the same encounter.

      Facet Injections and Medical Branch Blocks (CPT 64490-64495)

      • Overall Claims Volume: 391,410
      • CPT Payment: $141,144,372.81
      • Top 5 States
        • Texas had 40,472 claims with a payment of $13,102,475.35
        • California had 24,109 claims with a payment of $11,433,125.41,
        • Massachusetts had 23,738 claims with a payment of $9,892,874.58,
        • New York had 18,901 claims with a payment of $6,922,608.02, and
        • Pennsylvania had 18,624 claims with a payment of $6,764,696.64.

      Facet Joint Nerve Destruction (CPT codes 64633-64636)

      • Overall Claims Volume: 185,564
      • Sum CPT Paid: $124,386,756.18
      • Top 5 States
        • Texas had 19,051 claims with a payment of $12,335,211.47,
        • California had 11,620 claims with a payment of $10,144,086.72,
        • Florida had 8,641 claims with a payment of $4,970,708.01,
        • Illinois had 8,023 claims with a payment of $4,782,664.98, and
        • Pennsylvania had 7,711 claims with a payment of $5,205,371.13.
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.