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New Cervical Fusion Local Coverage Determinations
Published on Jun 05, 2024
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Did You Know?

In 2023, the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) came together for a multi-MAC collaboration to provide an evidence-based Local Coverage Determination (LCD) for cervical fusion.

 

Why it Matters?

Historically, there have been LCDs for back procedures for Cervical Disk Replacement (i.e., Palmetto GBA LCD L38033), Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement (i.e., Palmetto GBA LCD L37826), and Lumbar Spinal Fusion (i.e., Palmetto GBA LCD L37826).

 

Cervical Fusion is new to this group of back procedure LCDs, and the original effective date for this new LCD is July 7, 2024.

 

Per Palmetto’s LCD, cervical fusion surgery is considered medically reasonable and necessary when one of three covered indications:

  1. For decompression of symptomatic cervical nerve root impingement,
  2. For decompression of symptomatic cervical canal stenosis, or
  3. For decompression or stabilization of the cervical spine for one of four indications (traumatic injuries, spinal tumors, infection, deformities that include the cervical spine.)

 

In addition to meeting one of the above three indications, there are specific requirements for each that also must be met.  

 

What Can You Do?

Find your MAC specific LCD and related Billing and Coding Article on the Medicare Coverage Database (MCD) and share this information with key stakeholders at your facility. Below are the MAC specific policies and related articles listed on the MCD as of June 3rd.   

 

MAC Specific Cervical Fusion LCD and related Billing and Coding Article

CGS J14: L39741 / A59608 (A59738 – Response to Comments Article)

First Coast JN: DL39799

NGS J6/JK: DL39770 / DA59632

Noridian JE: L39758 / A59624 (A59796 – Response to Comments Article)

Noridian JF: L39762 / A59645 (A59797 – Response to Comments Article)

Novitas JH/JL: DL39793

Palmetto JJ/JM: L39773 / A59634 (A59736 – Response to Comments Article)

WPS J5/J8: L39788 / A59664 (A59800 – Response to Comments Article)

Beth Cobb

Cataract Awareness Month June 2024
Published on Jun 05, 2024
20240605

Did You Know?

June is cataract awareness month and according to the National Eye Institute (https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts), most cataracts are age-related, there are no early symptoms of cataracts and later symptoms includes blurry vision, colors that seem faded, sensitivity to light, trouble seeing at night and double vision.

 

In addition to age, you may be at a higher risk of developing cataracts if you:

  • Have certain health problems like diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Have a family history of cataracts
  • Have had an eye injury, eye surgery, or radiation treatment on your upper body
  • Have spent a lot of time in the sun
  • Take steroids

 

A cataract is diagnosed by a dilated eye exam and the treatment is surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common operations in the United States. In fact, more than half of all Americans aged eighty or older either have cataracts or have had surgery to get rid of cataracts.

 

Why it Matters?

Being a high-volume surgery means scrutiny by CMS and Medicare Contractors to assure documentation in the medical record supports medical necessity of the procedure.

 

Recovery Audit Contractors

RAC Issue 0002 Cataract Removal has been an approved complex review for procedures performed in the outpatient hospital setting and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) since February 1, 2017. RACs will review documentation to determine if cataract surgery meets Medicare coverage criteria, meets applicable coding guidelines, and/or is medically reasonable and necessary. Applicable National Coverage Determinations (NCDs), Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs), and Local Coverage Articles (LCAs) are included on this RAC issue webpage.

 

Comprehensive Error Rate Testing (CERT)

In the 2023 CERT Medicare Fee-for-Service supplemental improper payment report, cataract removal and lens insertion is listed in Table G1: Improper Payment Rates by Service Type: Part B. The improper payment rate was 8.2% with the projected improper payment of $149,241,566.

 

Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs)

JE and JF MAC: Noridian

Cataract surgery has been a review target for Noridian MAC jurisdictions for a few years. Their most recent review findings were published on April 15, 2024 for claims with dates of service from January 1, 2024 through March 31, 2024:  

  • Noridian JE error rate was 22% down from 48.67% in April 2023.
  • Noridian JF was 43.6% down from error rate 45.88% in April 2023.

 

Noridian’s review results articles include top denial reasons, educational resources, and education regarding the medical necessity for cataract surgery.

 

What Can You Do?

With so many entities focused on reviewing cataract surgery claims, moving forward providers should:

  • Respond to ADRs in a timely manner,
  • Become familiar with medical necessity indications and documentation requirements detailed in Medicare coverage documents (NCDs, LCDs, LCAs),
  • Be aware of who is performing cataract surgery reviews,
  • Read published review results to understand reasons for denials and ways to prevent future denials, and
  • Ensure physicians performing these procedures are also aware of Medicare coverage requirements.

Beth Cobb

May 2024 Medicare Transmittals and MLN Articles
Published on May 29, 2024
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Medicare Transmittals & MLN Articles

April 25, 2024: MLN MM13449: Stay of Enrollment – Revised

This article provides information about a new provider enrollment status called a stay of enrollment and related updates to the Medicare Program Integrity Manual, Chapter 10. On April 25th, CMS reissued this article to revise the effective and implementation dates to May 30, 2024 and the web address of Change Request (CR) 13449. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13449-stay-enrollment.pdf

 

May 3, 2024: MLN MM13487: Diabetes Screening & Definitions Update: CY 2024 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

CMS advises providers to make sure your billing staff knows about the revised regulatory definition of diabetes, the revised diabetes screening frequency limitations, and coverage of the Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) test for diabetes screening.

 

Prior to January 1, 2024 the HbA1C test (HCPCS code 83036) was covered for the purpose of diabetes management but not for diabetes screening. As of January 1, 2024, CMS now covers the HbA1c test for diabetes screening. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13487-diabetes-screening-definitions-update-cy-2024-physician-fee-schedule-final-rule.pdf

 

May 3, 2024: MLN MM13486: Annual Wellness Visit: Social Determinants of Health Risk Assessment

Make sure your billing staff knows that the social determinants of health (SDOH) risk assessment is now an optional annual wellness visit (AWV) element and what the eligibility and billing requirements are for completing the SDOH risk assessment as part of the AWV. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13486-annual-wellness-visit-social-determinants-health-risk-assessment.pdf

 

May 3, 2024: MLN MM13592: Updates for Split or Shared Evaluation & Management Visits

Information in this article for your billing staff include the definition of split or shared visit and substantive portion, and how to bill appropriately for split or shared evaluation and management (E/M) visits. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13592-updates-split-or-shared-evaluation-management-visits.pdf

 

May 9, 2024: MLN MM13608: ESRD Prospective Payment System Quarterly Update

Make sure your billing staff knows about the Transitional Drug Add-On Payment Adjustment (TDAPA) for HCPCS code J0911 and the updated list of outlier services under the ESRD PPS. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13608-esrd-prospective-payment-system-quarterly-update.pdf

 

May 16, 2024: MLN MM13617: Medicare Claims Processing Manual Update: Gap-Filling DMEPOS Fees

Make sure your billing staff knows about the revised Section 60.3 in the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 23 and updated factors for gap-filling purposes.

https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13617-medicare-claims-processing-manual-update-gap-filling-dmepos-fees.pdf

 

May 23, 2024: MLN MM13598: NCD 200.3 – Monoclonal Antibodies Directed Against Amyloid for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

This article includes information about FDA-approved monoclonal antibodies, the criteria for coverage, coding information, and claims processing instructions. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13598-national-coverage-determination-2003-monoclonal-antibodies-treatment-alzheimers-disease.pdf

 

May 24, 2024: MLN MM13613: Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule & Laboratory Services Reasonable Charge Payment: Quarterly Update

This article was initially released on May 3rd, 2024 with guidance from CMS to make sure your billing staff know that the next private payor data reporting period of January 1, 2025 – March 31, 2025 and new and deleted HCPCS codes. No substantive changes were made in the May 24th revision other than to update the web address of the CR transmittal. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13613-clinical-laboratory-fee-schedule-laboratory-services-reasonable-charge-payment-quarterly.pdf

Beth Cobb

May 2024 Medicare Coverage, Compliance, and Other Updates
Published on May 29, 2024
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Coverage Updates

April 30, 2024: New National Coverage Analysis (NCA)Tracking Sheet for Implanted Pulmonary Artery Pressure Sensor for Heart Failure Management (CAG-00466N)

CMS posted a National Coverage Analysis (NCA) Tracking Sheet regarding a request from Abbott to provide coverage for the CardioMEMS™ HF System. This device measures Pulmonary artery (PA) pressures by using a combination of an implantable PA pressure sensor and a remote hemodynamic monitoring system that is accessible by the physician. CMS is soliciting public comment until May 30, 2024 and has indicated a proposed Decision Memo due date of October 30, 2024. https://www.cms.gov/medicare-coverage-database/view/ncacal-tracking-sheet.aspx?ncaid=313

 

May 2, 2024: CMS Statement on Proposed LCD for Skin Substitute Grafts/Cellular and Tissue-Based Products for Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Venous Leg Ulcers

CMS notes in the May 2, 2024 edition of MLN Connects that they are aware of the MACs having issued a collaborative proposed Skin Substitute Grafts/Cellular and Tissue-Based Products for the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Venous Leg Ulcers Local Coverage Determination (LCD). CMS strongly encourages interested parties to provide comments during the public comment period that is open until June 8, 2024.  

 

May 10, 2024: MLN MM13596: ICD-10 & Other Coding Revisions to National Coverage Determinations: October 2024 Update

This article highlights new codes and recent coding changes related to the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) (NCD 90.2), Bariatric Surgery for Treatment of Co-Morbid Conditions Related to Morbid Obesity (NCD 100.1), and the Aprepitant for Chemotherapy-Induced Emesis (NCD 110.18). https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13596-icd-10-other-coding-revisions-national-coverage-determinations-october-2024-update.pdf

 

May 13, 2024: MLN MM13604: National Coverage Determination 110.23: Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

Make sure your billing staff knows about coverage for HSCT using bone marrow, peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood stem cell products for Medicare patients and all other indications for stem cell transplantation not otherwise specified. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13604-national-coverage-determination-11023-allogeneic-hematopoietic-stem-cell-transplantation.pdf

 

Compliance Education Updates

May 2024: MLN Fact Sheet: Swing Bed Services

CMS has updated this fact sheet to include information about covered Critical Access Hospital (CAH) swing bed services.  https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mln006951-swing-bed-services.pdf

 

Other Updates

May 9, 2024: CMS Publication – Part B Drug Payment Limits Overview

In the Thursday, May 9th edition of MLN Connects, CMS noted they have published a Part B Drug Payment Limits Overview document to explain the Average Sales Price (ASP) payment limit calculation and other Medicare Part B drug payment methodologies including Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC), Average Wholesale Price (AWP), Average Manufacturer Price (AMP), Widely Available Market Price (WAMP), and Contractor Pricing.  

 

May 9, 2024: Mental Health: It’s Important at Every Stage of Life

Also in the Thursday, May 9th edition of MLN Connects, CMS noted that mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health, and they provide links to information about appropriate preventive services and preventive services (i.e. Medicare & Mental Health Coverage) covered by Medicare.

 

May 21, 2024: CMS Launches New Option for Individuals to Report Potential Violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)

CMS announced the launch of a new web resource to educate the public and promote patients’ access to emergency medical care to which they are entitled under federal law. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-launches-new-option-report-potential-violations-federal-law-and-continue

 

Beth Cobb

April 2024 Compliance Education and Other Updates
Published on Apr 24, 2024
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Compliance Education Updates

March 2024: MLN8659122: MLN Fact Sheet Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage Updated

CMS updated the payment rules for patients enrolled in Medicare Advantage Organizations. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mln8659122-original-medicare-vs-medicare-advantage.pdf

 

April 2024: MLN Educational Tool Medicare Preventive Services Revised

CMS has revised this tool to clarify social determinants of health information, add a link to the most current and comprehensive list of ICD-10 codes for bone mass measurement and colorectal cancer screening, add coding, coverage, and payment information for COVID-19 vaccine and administration, and replace Hepatis B information with a link to the Hepatitis B screening service. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prevention/PrevntionGenInfo/medicare-preventive-services/MPS-QuickReferenceChart-1.html

 

Other Updates

March 26, 2024: GAO Improper Payments: Information on Agencies’ Fiscal Year 2023 Estimates

In this report the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates the importance of this information due to the fact that “improper payments – those that should not have been made or were made in the incorrect amount – have consistently been a government-wide issue. Since fiscal year 2003, cumulative improper payment estimated by executive branch agencies have totaled about $2.7 trillion. Reducing improper payments is critical to safeguarding federal funds.” With an estimated $51 billion in estimated improper payments HHC’s Medicare (Medicare Fee-for-Service (Parts A and B), Medicare Advantage (Part C), and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D)) had the highest estimated improper payments across 14 government agencies.

https://www.gao.gov/assets/d24106927.pdf?emci=4185bdfa-36ed-ee11-aaf0-002248223794&emdi=645794fb-40ed-ee11-aaf0-002248223794&ceid=7931774

 

March 27, 2024: CMS Releases FY 2025 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule (CMS-1804-P)

CMS is proposing to update payment rates by 2.8 percent. This proposed rule includes annual updates to the prospective payment rates, the outlier threshold, the case-mix-group relative weights and average length of stay values, the wage index, associated impact analysis, and IRF Quality Reporting Program (QRP). Also included are two requests for information (RFIs) (1) Future Measure Concepts for the IRF QRP, and (2) Creating and IRF QRP Star Rating System.

 

CMS Fact Sheet: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fiscal-year-2025-inpatient-rehabilitation-facility-prospective-payment-system-proposed-rule-cms-1804

 

CMS Proposed Rule: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/payment/prospective-payment-systems/inpatient-rehabilitation/rules-related-files/cms-1804-p

 

IRF QRP webpage: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/quality/inpatient-rehabilitation-facility

 

March 28, 2024: CMS Issues 3 FY 2025 Proposed Rules: SNF, Inpatient Psych and Hospice

FY 2025 Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule (CMS 1802-P) CMS Fact Sheet: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fy-25-skilled-nursing-facility-prospective-payment-system-proposed-rule-cms-1802-p

 

FY 2025 Medicare Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Prospective Payment System (IPF PPS) and Quality Reporting (IPFQR) Updates Proposed Rule (CMS-1806-P) CMS Fact Sheet: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fiscal-year-2025-medicare-inpatient-psychiatric-facilities-prospective-payment-system-ipf-pps-and

  • Of note, CMS has proposed to increase the per treatment amount for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) from the current FY 2024 payment per treatment of $385.58 to $660.30. CMS believes this increase would help ensure that patients who need ECT are more able to access it. (ECT CPT 90870)

 

FY 2025 Hospice Payment Rate Update Proposed Rule (CMS-1810-P) CMS Fact Sheet: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/fiscal-year-fy-2025-hospice-payment-rate-update-proposed-rule-cms-1810-p

Beth Cobb

April 2024 MLN Article and Coverage Updates
Published on Apr 24, 2024
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Medicare MLN Articles

March 20, 2024: MLN MM11003: Electronic Medical Documentation Requests via the Electronic Submission of Medical Documentation System – Revised

This MLN was first released February 1, 2019. In the March 20, 2024 revision to this article, CMS has added information about the implementation of a new feature to accept review outcome letters during October 2023 release. https://www.cms.gov/outreach-and-education/medicare-learning-network-mln/mlnmattersarticles/downloads/mm11003.pdf

 

April 4, 2024: MLN MM13577: Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Update – April 2024

Make sure your billing staff knows about new CPT and HCPCS codes, Device code changes, iDose TR (travoprost intracameral implant) for the treatment of glaucoma, Drug and biological code changes, and Skin code updates. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13577-ambulatory-surgical-center-payment-update-april-2024.pdf

 

April 15, 2024: MLN MM13574: DMEPOS Fee Schedule: April 2024 Quarterly Update – Revised

This MLN article was revised on April 15th to show the addition of 4 HCPCS Level II codes to Common Working File category 58. CMS also revised the effective date and the web address of Change Request (CR) 13574). https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13574-dmepos-fee-schedule-april-2024-quarterly-update.pdf

 

April 15, 2024: MLN MM13587: Medicare Claims Processing Manual Update: Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility

CMS advised that you make sure your billing staff know that hospitals may open a new IRF unit at any time during the cost reporting year, and any IRF unit excluded during a cost reporting Year will stay excluded for the rest of the cost reporting year. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13587-medicare-claims-processing-manual-update-inpatient-rehabilitation-facility.pdf

 

Coverage Updates

April 15, 2024: CMS Releases Fact Sheet for Potential NCD for Preexposure Prophylaxis (PrER) Using Antiretroviral Drugs to Prevent HIV

CMS is sharing this information to encourage pharmacies and other interested parties to prepare for a potential National Coverage Determination (NCD) for PrEP Using Antiretroviral Drugs to Prevent HIV.

 

April 16, 2024: MLN MM13512: National Coverage Determination 20.7: Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty

This article provides education about the changes in coverage for PTA of the carotid artery concurrent with stenting effective October 11, 2023:

  • Patients don’t have to enroll in a clinical trial.
  • Facilities don’t need CMS approval to perform this service.
  • You must engage in a formal shared decision-making (SDM) process with the patient. This must include documentation of four key elements outlined in this MLN article.
  • MACs can decide if this service is covered if it’s not addressed in this NCD.

Note, your MAC will adjust claims processed in error that you bring to their attention. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13215-national-coverage-determination-207-percutaneous-transluminal-angioplasty.pdf

Beth Cobb

CMS Announces New ASC Prior Authorization Demonstration
Published on Apr 03, 2024
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Did You Know?

In mid-February CMS announced a new Prior Authorization Demonstration for certain Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Services.

 

Why It Matters?

In their announcement, CMS references the nationwide prior authorization process for certain hospital outpatient department (OPD) services that was finalized in the Calendar Year 2020 OPPS Final Rule and implemented on July 1, 2020. The initial services subject to prior authorization in 2020 were blepharoplasty, botulinum toxin injections, panniculectomy, rhinoplasty, and vein ablation procedures.

 

This 5-year demonstration project design will include ASC providers that:

  • Submit claims with place of service 24 (Ambulatory Surgical Center) for one of the five previously mentioned services,
  • Are in one of the ten demonstration states (California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, and New York), and
  • Submit claims to Medicare fee-for-service.

 

CMS plans to implement this demonstration for all ten states in one phase and they do not anticipate beginning the demonstration earlier than the fall of 2024.

 

Why now? CMS indicates that data from 2019 to 2021 shows there has been a significant increase in utilization in the ASC for the above five services and they were selected “for inclusion in this demonstration, based upon problematic events, data, trends, and potential billing behavior impacts of the OPD Prior Authorization Program which requires prior authorization as a condition of payment for these services.”

 

What Can You Do?

Take the time to read CMS Form CMS-10884 to learn about details of the demonstration design and justification for the need for this demonstration.

 

Since “the documentation requirements that MACs already have for the services in the OPD program, including local coverage determinations (LCDs), are applicable to these ASC services as well” visit your MACs website to find related resources. For example, Palmetto GBA Jurisdiction J (JJ), the MAC for Tennessee and Georgia has several resources available on their Medical Review / Outpatient Prior Department Prior Authorization (PA) webpage (i.e., Blepharoplasty and Medical Necessity Module).

 

Finally, if you are in one of the demonstration states, share this information with key stakeholders at your facility.

Beth Cobb

April 2024 MedCAT Minute: Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation
Published on Mar 20, 2024
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MMP’s Medicare Compliance Assessment Tool (MedCAT) combines current Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) review targets (i.e., MAC, RAC, SMRC) with hospital specific Medicare FFS paid claims data made possible through a collaboration with RealTime Medicare Data (RTMD).

 

In general, MedCAT Minute articles spotlight current contractor review activities. The focus of this article is RAC Issue 0210: Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation (HNS) for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

 

Background

For patients with OSA who are unable to tolerate CPAP, HNS is one available alternative treatment strategy. The American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO) (2016) position statement indicates that “The AAO considers upper airway stimulation (UAS) via the hypoglossal nerve for the treatment of adult obstructive sleep apnea syndrome to be an effective second-line treatment of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea in patients who are intolerant or unable to achieve benefit with positive pressure therapy (PAP). Not all adult patients are candidates for UAS therapy and appropriate polysomnographic, age, BMI and objective upper airway evaluation measures are required for proper patient selection.” ¹

 

Medicare Coverage Guidance

In 2020, each Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) published a Local Coverage Determination (LCD) and related Billing and Coding Article (LCA) for HNS. In general, coverage guidance in each of the LCD’s includes the following statements:

 

“Notice: It is not appropriate to bill Medicare for services that are not covered (as described by this entire LCD) as if they are covered. When billing for non-covered services, use the appropriate modifier.

 

Compliance with the provisions in this policy may be monitored and addressed through post payment data analysis and subsequent medical review audits.”

 

In several of the MAC’s Response to Comments Articles, commenters requested that CPAP refusal or non-acceptance should be included with CPAP failure or intolerance as criteria. The refusal/non-acceptance should be clearly documented along with conversations of the benefits of CPAP and the limitations of HNS.

 

In each instance, the MAC responded to this request by noting that failure of conservative therapy should be tried and failed and or not tolerated prior to a surgical approach and no change was made to the LCD.

 

RAC Issue 0210: Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Medical Necessity and Documentation Requirements

RAC Issue 0210 was approved for review by CMS on June 7, 2022.

  • Review Type: Complex
  • Provider Type: Outpatient Hospital, Ambulatory Surgical Center, and Professional Services
  • Issue Description: Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation (HNS) is reasonable and necessary for the treatment of moderate to severe OSA when coverage criteria are met. Documentation will be reviewed to determine if HNS meets Medicare coverage criteria, applicable coding guidelines, and/or are medically reasonable and necessary.
  • Affected Code: CPT 64582
    • Note: This CPT code was effective on January 1, 2022.
  • Applicable Policy References: The related National Coverage Determination (NCD) 2401.4.1 Sleep Testing for OSA and each of the MACs LCD and related Billing and Coding Articles are included in this section of the RAC Issue.

 

By July 1, 2022, all RACs had added this issue to their list of issues that they would review for all three listed provider types.

 

Meeting Medical Necessity and Documentation Gaps

Palmetto GBA, the Jurisdiction J MAC, has published an article highlighting requirements to meet criteria for HNS and indications when HNS would not be reasonable and necessary.

Beth Cobb

New March 2024 OIG Work Plan Item: Sepsis
Published on Mar 20, 2024
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On Friday, March 15, 2024, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) updated their Work Plan with eight new items. One item that hospitals will want to follow is related to hospital billing for sepsis.

 

OIG Work Plan Item (OEI-02-24-00230): Medicare Inpatient Hospital Billing for Sepsis

“Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. It is a life-threatening, emergency medical issue that often progresses quickly and responds best to early intervention. The definition of and guidance for sepsis have changed over the years in attempts to identify it more accurately. The definition of sepsis was updated in 2016 by an international task force to better differentiate sepsis from a general infection. This narrower definition is widely recognized by groups such as the World Health Organization. However, CMS and CDC currently recognize an older, broader definition. Sepsis is a frequently billed diagnosis in Medicare. There are concerns that hospitals may be taking advantage of this broader definition, as they have a financial incentive to do so. This study will analyze Medicare claims to assess patterns in the inpatient hospital billing of sepsis in 2023 and describe how billing of sepsis varied among hospitals. We will also estimate the costs to Medicare associated with using the broader, rather than the narrower, definition of sepsis.” The OIG’s expected report issue date is in Fiscal Year (FY) 2025.

 

Sepsis, Not a New Target

 

OIG and Sepsis

This is not the first time that the OIG has had sepsis MS-DRG’s in their crosshairs. For example, sepsis was mentioned in the February 2021 OIG Report: Trend Toward More Expensive Inpatient Hospitals Stays Emerged Before COVID-19 and Warrant’s further Scrutiny.

 

In their report results, the OIG indicated that “the most frequently billed MS-DRG in FY 2019 was septicemia or severe sepsis with a major complication (MS-DRG 871). Hospitals billed for 581,000 of these stays, for which Medicare paid $7.4 billion.”

 

The following data compares Medicare Fee-for-Service paid claims data by calendar year from pre-COVID 2019 to after then end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) in May 2023.

 

MS-DRG 871 Medicare Fee-for-Service Paid Claims Data Trend

 

Calendar Year 2019

Claims Volume: 620,927

Claims Payment: $7.992,972,329

 

Calendar Year 2020

Claims Volume: 611,140

Claims Payment: $8,481,178,934

 

Calendar Year 2021

Claims Volume: 556,680

Claims Payment: $8,152,439,134

 

Calendar Year 2022

Claims Volume: 566,387

Claims Payment: $8,392,707,197

 

Calendar Year (January 1 – September 30, 2023) Annualized

Claims Volume: 546,496

Claims Payment: $8,238,024,702

 

The data shows that claims volume and payment has declined since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, when you annualize calendar year 2023 claims data (January 1 through September 30, 2023), Medicare payment for sepsis continues to be immense at just over $8.2 billion for one MS-DRG. This data was provided by our sister company, RealTime Medicare Data (RTMD).

Beth Cobb

March 2024 National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Published on Mar 06, 2024
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Did You Know?

According to the American Cancer Society, there has been a rise in colorectal diagnoses among people 50 and younger. “In the late 1990s, colorectal cancer was the fourth leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in this age group, and now, it is the first cause of cancer death in men younger than 50 and the second cause in women that age.”

 

In May 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force changed its colorectal cancer screening recommendation. They lowered the age at which adults at average risk of getting colorectal cancer begin screening from 50 to 45.

 

Why it Matters?

Effective January 1, 2023, CMS lowered the minimum age for colorectal screening (CRC) from age 50 to 45 for certain tests.

 

MLN Matters article MM13017, Removal of a National Coverage Determination and & Expansion of Coverage of Colorectal (CRC) Screening includes:

  • A list of the specific screening tests where the minimum age has decreased from 50 to 45 years and older, and
  • An expanded definition of CRC screening tests and new billing instructions for colonoscopies under certain scenarios.

 

Also, National Coverage Determination (NCD 210.3) Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests was revised to reflect the decrease in minimum age for each of the covered indications listed in this policy.

 

What Can You Do?

As a healthcare provider, be aware of the changes in Medicare’s colorectal screening coverage. Use the Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests information available in MLN Educational Tool Medicare Preventive Services to identify:

  • Applicable HCPCS, CPT and ICD-10 Codes,
  • The specific screening tests that Medicare Covers,
  • The frequency for performing these screening tests for patients not meeting high-risk criteria as well as patients at high-risk,
  • What the patient pays, and
  • Other notes (i.e., CMS pays for anesthesia services provided in conjunction with, and in support of, a screening colonoscopy reported with CPT code 00812.)

 

As a healthcare consumer, I encourage everyone to talk with your doctor about your risk(s) for colorectal cancer and the need for screening tests.

 

References

American Cancer Society article: 2024 – First Year the US Expects More than 2M New Cases of Cancer: https://www.cancer.org/research/acs-research-news/facts-and-figures-2024.html

 

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force May 18, 2021 Final Recommendation Statement for colorectal cancer screening: https://uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/colorectal-cancer-screening

 

MLN MM13017: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/mm13017-removal-national-coverage-determination-expansion-coverage-colorectal-cancer-screening.pdf

 

MLN Educational tool Medicare Preventive Services: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prevention/PrevntionGenInfo/medicare-preventive-services/MPS-QuickReferenceChart-1.html#COLO_CAN

Beth Cobb

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