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January 2021 Medicare Transmittals and Other Updates

Published on 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021



January 2021 Update of the Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System

  • Transmittal 10557 Release Date: January 8, 2021
  • What You Need to Know: Transmittal 10546, dated December 31, 2020, has been rescinded and replaced by Transmittal 10557 to correct Attachment B with the addition of missing existing HCPCS J0390, J0745, J2560, 0583T, and Q5118.
  • Link to Transmittal 10557:

Fiscal year (FY) 2021 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Care Hospital (LTCH) PPS Changes

  • Transmittal 10571 Release Date: January 15, 2021
  • What You Need to Know: Transmittal 10360, dated September 18, 2020, has been rescinded and replaced with Transmittal 10571 to correct a value in section G. Updating the PSF for Wage Index, Reclassifications and Redesignations and Wage Index Changes and Issues.
  • Link to Transmittal 10571:

April 2021 Update to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS)

  • Transmittal 10572 Release Date: January 15, 2020
  • What You Need to Know: Transmittal 10496, dated November 25, 2020, has been rescinded and replaced with Transmittal 10572 to update the background section and to add business requirements 12062.6 and 12062.3. All other information remains the same.
  • Link to Transmittal 10572:

International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10) and Other Coding Revisions to National Coverage Determinations (NCDs) – April 2021

  • Article Release Date: November 4, 2020 –Revision Date January 20, 2020
  • What You Need to Know: CMS issued a revised Change Request (CR) 12027 on January 14, 2021 to revise the release date, transmittal number, and web address of the CR. This MLN Article was updated to reflect this information. No other substantive changes were made.
  • Link to MLN MM12027:

Calendar Year (CY) 2021 Annual Update for Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule and Laboratory Services Subject to Reasonable Charge Payment

  • Article Release Date: December 18, 2020 – Revised Date January 20, 2021
  • What You Need to Know: This article was revised to reflect a revised CR 12080 where CMS changes the payment determination for code 0177U in the crosswalk from 81310 to 81309.
  • Link to MLN12080:




Special Edition MLN Article: Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997

  • Article Release Date: January 5, 2021
  • What You Need to Know: “The Assisted Suicide Funding Restriction Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-12) prohibits the use of Federal funds to provide or pay for any health care item or service, or health benefit coverage, for the purpose of causing, or assisting to cause, the death of any individual including mercy killing, euthanasia, or assisted suicide. The prohibition does not pertain to the provision of an item or service for the purpose of alleviating pain or discomfort, even if such use may increase the risk of death, so long as the item or service is not furnished for the specific purpose of causing or accelerating death.”
  • Link to SE20014:




January 19, 2021: Final Decision for Screening for Colorectal Cancer – Blood based Biomarker Tests (CAG-00454N)

Following is the summary information from this Final Decision Memo: 

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has determined that the evidence is sufficient to cover a blood-based biomarker test as an appropriate colorectal cancer screening test once every 3 years for Medicare beneficiaries when performed in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA)-certified laboratory, when ordered by a treating physician and when all of the following requirements are met:

The patient is:

  • age 50-85 years, and,
  • asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms of colorectal disease including but not limited to lower gastrointestinal pain, blood in stool, positive guaiac fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test), and,
  • at average risk of developing colorectal cancer (no personal history of adenomatous polyps, colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis; no family history of colorectal cancers or adenomatous polyps, familial adenomatous polyposis, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer).

The blood-based biomarker screening test must have all of the following:

  • FDA market authorization with an indication for colorectal cancer screening; and
  • proven test performance characteristics for a blood-based screening test with both sensitivity greater than or equal to 74% and specificity greater than or equal to 90% in the detection of colorectal cancer compared to the recognized standard (accepted as colonoscopy at this time), based on the pivotal studies included in the FDA labeling.

The currently available Epi proColon® test does not meet the criteria for an appropriate blood-based biomarker CRC screening test.  Based on the evidence at this time, we will non-cover the Epi proColon® test.”

January 19, 2021: Final Decision Memo for Transcatheter Edge-to-Edge Repair (TEER) for Mitral Valve Regurgitation (CAG-00438R)

NCD 20.33 became effective August 7, 2014. Abbot Vascular’s MitraClip® is currently the only FDA-approved device for the percutaneous treatment of mitral regurgitation. This Decision Memo renamed the procedure from Transcather Mitral Valve Repair (TMVR) to TEER.




January 6, 2021: Letter from the Desk of the Palmetto GBA Medical Directors: Caring for Medicare Patients is a Partnership

In this letter to Physicians, the Palmetto GBA Medical Directors stated that “as a patient’s treating physician or nonphysician practitioner, you may order, refer and/or give health care services for your patient in partnership with other providers (i.e., DME Suppliers or Home Health Agencies). Understanding the applicable Medicare coverage criteria (for example, medical necessity) and documentation guidelines for those services is extremely important for the accurate and timely processing and payment of both your claims and the claims of other entities, including physicians, other health care providers and suppliers who give services for your patient.

Other physicians and health care providers may need your documentation or certification supporting the medical necessity of the services they give secondary to your referral or order. Audits conducted by the Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT) program, Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs), Recovery Auditors (RAs) and Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) have frequently shown that available documentation lacks information to establish medical necessity. Audits also have consistently shown that the medical records given by physicians lack sufficient documentation to justify an item or service ordered by them. This lack of physician documentation is causing a lack of payment for services and may result in denied or delayed care for your patient.” For more information regarding this Physician’s role, Palmetto provided a link to the MLN Fact Sheet titled Caring for Medicare Patients is a Partnership.”




December 31, 2020: OIG Report: The CMS Could Improve Its Wage Index Adjustment for Hospitals in Areas with the Lowest Wages (A-01-20-00502)

The OIG released this report indicating that “when post-pandemic conditions allow for new initiatives, CMS could consider focusing the bottom quartile wage index adjustment more precisely toward the hospitals that are the least able to raise wages without that adjustment…CMS could also consider studying the question of why some hospitals in a particular area were able to pay higher wages than other hospitals in the same area prior to the implementation of the bottom quartile wage index adjustment.” Are the hospitals in your state in the bottom quartile? You can find out by reading the OIG Report.

January 7, 2021: Special Edition MLN Connects – Physician Fee Schedule Update

CMS released the following information regarding Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) Payments for CY 2021:

“On December 27, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 modified the Calendar Year (CY) 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS):

  • Provided a 3.75% increase in MPFS payments for CY 2021
  • Suspended the 2% payment adjustment (sequestration) through March 31, 2021
  • Reinstated the 1.0 floor on the work Geographic Practice Cost Index through CY 2023
  • Delayed implementation of the inherent complexity add-on code for evaluation and management services (G2211) until CY 2024

CMS has recalculated the MPFS payment rates and conversion factor to reflect these changes. The revised MPFS conversion factor for CY 2021 is 34.8931. The revised payment rates are available in the Downloads section of the CY 2021 Physician Fee Schedule final rule (CMS-1734-F) webpage.”

January 7, 2021: Letter to State Health Officials – Opportunities to Better Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

CMS has issued a new roadmap for states to address SDOHs to improve outcomes, lower costs, and support state value-based care strategies. In the Press Release, CMS notes this is part of their commitment to accelerate the health care industry’s shift from tradition fee-for-service payment models to value-based models that hold clinicians accountable for cost and quality. 

January 13, 2021: CMS Report – Putting Patients First: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Record of Accomplishments from 2017-2020

CMS announced in a News Alert their release of this report detailing accomplishments by CMS Strategic Initiatives (i.e. Strengthening Medicare, Innovating Payment Models, and Price Transparency) and provides a Case Study of the COVID-19 response. You can learn more about the Patients Over Paperwork initiative on the CMS website at

January 14, 2021: MLN Connects – Payment for Outpatient Clinic Visit Services at Excepted Off-Campus Provider-Based Departments

The following information was published in the January 14th edition of the CMS e-newsletter MLN Connects:

“By July 1, 2021, CMS will begin reprocessing claims for outpatient clinic visit services provided at excepted off-campus Provider-Based Departments (PBDs) so they are paid at the same rate as non-excepted off-campus PBDs for those services under the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). This affects claims with dates of service between January 1 and December 31, 2019. You do not need to do anything.


  • November 21, 2018: The CY 2019 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) Rulefinalized payment for certain outpatient clinic visit services provided at excepted off-campus PBDs at the same rate that we pay non-excepted off-campus PBDs for those services under the PFS. Previously, CMS and Medicare patients often paid more for the same type of clinic visit in the hospital outpatient setting than in the physician office setting.
  • In 2019: We reduced payment to 70% of the full OPPS rate in off-campus PBDs. In 2020, this rate changed to 40%.
  • September 17, 2019: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declared invalid the CY 2019 payment rule that provided for the reduction for clinic visits provided at excepted off-campus PBDs.
  • January 1 – July 2020: We reprocessed CY 2019 claims paid at the reduced payment rate of 70% to restore the 100% payment rate in accordance with the district court decision.
  • July 17, 2020: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversedthe district court ruling, upholding our volume control site-neutrality payment policy for off-campus outpatient hospital clinic visits.”

January 19, 2021: OIG Report – CMS and Its Contractors Did Not Use Comprehensive Error Rate Testing Program Data to Identify and Focus on Error-Prone Providers

The OIG’s objective for this review was to “determine whether CMS and its contractors used CERT program data to identify and focus on error-prone providers.” Note, “error-prone provider” is an OIG-created term and in the context of this report “the term refers to providers that had at least one error in each of the 4 CERT years analyzed, an error rate of higher than 25 percent in each of the 4 CERT years analyzed, and a total error amount of at least $2,500.” The OIG identified 100 error-prone providers who collectively received $3.5 million in improper payments for the years 2014 through 2017. This amount equated into an improper payment rate of more than 60.7 percent. Error-prone provider types included the following:

  • 64 durable medical equipment,
  • 22 labs,
  • 5 home health agencies,
  • 4 inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, and
  • 4 hospitals and 1 outpatient physician.

Link to OIG Report in Brief:

Link to OIG Report:

January 20, 2021: CMS Memorandum – Hospital Survey Priorities

CMS released a memorandum (QSO-21-13-Hospitals) to State Survey Agency Directors clarifying expectations of State Survey Agencies and Accrediting organizations charged with surveying hospitals for compliance with quality of care requirements as states and communities continued to be impacted by the COVID-19 PHE.

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.