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The Five Levels of The Medicare Appeal Process

May 11th, 2021 by

medicare appeals pricessBy: Zach Simpson

There might be times when Medicare denies coverage for an item, service, or test that you or your company provided. In the event this occurs you have the right to formally disagree wit the decision and encourage Medicare to change it. Therefore, understanding the appeals process for Medicare claims is vital for all providers. The aim of this article is to give providers a better understanding of the five (5) levels of the Medicare Appeal process, and what must occur at each level.

The Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) has five levels in the claims appeal process:

Level 1 – Redetermination by a Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC)

Level 2 – Reconsideration by a Qualified Independent Contractor (QIC)

Level 3 – Disposition by Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA)

Level 4 – Review by the Medicare Appeals Council (Council)

Level 5 – Judicial review in U.S. District Court read more

6 Essential Questions For Audit Preparedness

May 5th, 2021 by

medical practice auditBy: Zach Simpson

As you train your staff on the changes that were recently made regarding evaluation and management coding it is very important to ensure that your staff understands the auditor’s perspective as well. There are four distinct portions of an auditor’s tool when evaluating the documentation guidelines for office/outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services (99202-99215). The four distinct portions are diagnoses, data, risk, and calculation of medical decision making (MDM).  In order to ensure that a provider’s progress note is complete in the auditor’s eyes the provider should ask themselves the following six questions to create the best chances of successfully meeting the auditors expectations:

  1. Does my progress note contain a medically appropriate history and examination?
  2. Were my diagnoses addressed appropriately?
  3. Did I document all orders and data reviewed?
  4. Were other professionals included in my documentation that I worked with?
  5. Was an independent historian used?
  6. Does the documentation support the level of risk I chose?

For the remainder of the article, I am going to dive deeper into each question above so that you, as providers are able to recognize insufficient areas in a provider’s E/M documentation when you perform a self audit to better your practice. read more

Five Reimbursement Denial Reduction Tips

April 25th, 2021 by

EOBBy: Zach Simpson

  1. Review EOBs and determine where denials are originating and their root cause

While reviewing EOBs practices need to determine if a trend can be established that identifies the root cause for why claims are being denied. Trends can be established by asking if most denials are originating in your patient access and registration departments, or are denials occurring because of insufficient documentation, or due to billing or coding errors?

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Is Your Office Utilizing An Outdated Advanced Beneficiary Notice of Non-Coverage Form?

April 22nd, 2021 by

medicare abnBy: Zach Simpson

Does your office treat Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries? If so, this article is vital to you and your staff. The first question that I want all of you to ask yourself is if your practice treats Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries do you know what an ABN is, and why they are vital for your practice? The acronym ABN stands for Advance Beneficiary Notice of Non-coverage. ABNs safeguard your practice’s right to collect on non-covered services (other than statutorily excluded services) from patients who have Medicare or Medicaid. Multiple organizations I have worked with throughout my career had never been informed about ABNs or had never been properly educated on how utilize them. This article is intended to provide you and your practice with the most recent information regarding the renewed ABN form that became mandatory for use on January 1, 2021.

As of January 1, 2021, a new Fee-for-Service Advanced Beneficiary Notification of Non-coverage became effective until it expires on June 30, 2023. In the event that your practice has been utilizing the same ABN forms for years then listen up. read more

Drug Waste A Big Money Issue & How Providers Can Recoup The Cost of Unused Drugs on Medicare Part B Claims

April 21st, 2021 by

drug wasteBy: Zach Simpson

In today’s practices there are many circumstances that call for the discarding of unused portion of drugs, and because of this drug waste can be a big-money issue for many practices. A perfect example is Botox which must be used within five hours of reconstitution, and if it is not used within that timeframe the only option a provider has is to discard the unused supply. What many providers may not be aware of though is that money can be recouped for drugs that have been discarded. The aim of this article is to educate providers that when applicable they may report drug waste in addition to the drug and its administration for Medicare Part B claim reimbursement.

How to Properly Report

For a provider to recoup and report the drug waste they must report the administered drug using the appropriate HCPCS Level II supply code, and the correct number of units in box24D of the CMS-1500 form. As a second line-item providers will want to enter all of the wasted units. It is very important to ensure that the provider documentation verifies the exact dosage of the drug injected, and the exact amount of and any reason for waste. Be aware If the provider did not assume the cost of the drug or administer the drug to the patient they may not bill for the unused portion.

In addition to listing the wasted units as a second line-item certain local contractors may require you to use the modifier JW Drug amount discarded/not administered to any patient to identify an unused drug from single-use vials or single-use packages that are appropriately discarded. Be aware that is inappropriate to use the modifier JW with an unlisted drug code. Therefore, it is imperative to be aware of the local contractor requirements, and appropriate drug codes. read more

How Often Should Chiropractors Have Their Patients Sign A New Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN)?

April 12th, 2021 by

chiropractor abnBy: Zach Simpson

Over the years I have come to grasp that ABNs although very useful are quite difficult to implement appropriately for chiropractic practices. My goal for this article is to help practices understand how often ABNs should actually be signed by their Medicare beneficiary patients. A question I am typically asked about ABNs is when should a patient sign a new one? Many offices have the misconception that a new ABN should be signed by Medicare beneficiaries at the beginning of each year which is not the case.

Medicare only requires that the ABN form be completed before the first spinal chiropractic manipulative treatment is rendered for maintenance, wellness, palliative, and/or supportive care. Until one of the following takes place the ABN remains active:

  • In the event a new condition or active treatment is initiated the current ABN would be rendered invalid because the active treatment would likely meet Medicare’s medical necessity guidelines and be considered eligible for payment again; or
  • The current ABN on file is more than twelve (12) months old. In the event the ABN is more than twelve (12) months old an updated ABN must be signed in order to continue maintenance care. Once the new ABN is signed it shall be valid for twelve (12) more months or until another active treatment is initiated.

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A Quick Refresher On Medicare’s Requirements For Self-Reporting & Returning Overpayments

April 8th, 2021 by

By: Zach Simpson

With the current healthcare environment many providers looked to alternative methods of treating patients and achieving outcomes this past year due to the pandemic. To meet the needs of their patients, and their financial obligations many providers implemented services that were not customary to their practice, or their billing departments. As is the case for any office that begins to provide something new there is always the potential for error in any aspect of the practice involved with the patient or claim. Therefore, I believe it is a great time to refresh providers on the procedures for reporting and returning Medicare overpayments as they are discovered moving forward.

As many of you are aware in 2016 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rue pursuant to Section 1128J(d) of the Social Security Act (the Act), as amended by the Affordable Care Act, that requires Medicare Parts A and B health care providers to report and return overpayments 60 days after the date an overpayment is identified, or the due date of any corresponding cost report, if applicable, whichever is later. If credible information indicates that an overpayment exists, the rule requires that a reasonably diligent inquiry must be performed.

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5 Easy Steps To Implement An ABN Into Your Practice’s Standard Procedures

April 7th, 2021 by

adding abn to your medical practiceBy: Zach Simpson

Due to the increasing number of forms being required these days it is all too common for practices to get lost in the vast terminology, rules, and coding requirements that have to be followed as well. An area that practices have one of the most difficult times with is operationalizing the issuance of an ABN properly. I am frequently asked to consult for practices that ask who does which part, when, and with whom in regards to ABNs? In other instances, many practices I have worked with simply make the mistake that they can solve the complexities of trying to understand the nuances of how to properly utilize ABNs by deciding to issue ABNs to every Medicare patient for every service which is not a viable option either. The solution that many offices try that I just described is called issuing blanket ABNs, which in turn may cause Medicare to invalidate all issued ABNs from the practice, including those that may been appropriate which is why it is very important that blanket ABNs are never issued.

One thing in common with practices that issue ABNs in a proper manner is that they all have a process in place for identifying potential denied services prior to delivering them. To many practices this may sound easy, but to ensure that your practice is as effective as possible it will take some claims data analysis to ensure that your practice is capturing all potential opportunities for ABN issuance. The aim of this article will be to provide practices with 5 steps that will make ABN issuance easier. read more

Do I Need A Massage Establishment License To Offer Massage Therapy In My Chiropractic Office?

March 22nd, 2021 by

massage therapy in chiropractor officeBy: Zach Simpson

A question that I am frequently asked is do I actually need a Massage Establishment License for my chiropractic practice? The answer is it depends on the employment status of licensed massage therapist, and whose patients the massage therapist is treating.

Chapter 480, Florida Statutes, regulates the practice of massage therapy in Florida. Pursuant to this law, the facility where massage therapy is administered must be licensed separately as a massage establishment license unless it is the residence or office of the client. Under the Chiropractic Medicine Act, a chiropractic physician prescribing massage therapy for his or her patients in the chiropractic physician’s office does not need to have a massage establishment license. However, the office, does need a massage establishment license if the massage therapist is permitted to bring his or her own clients into the office for massage therapy.

In addition, the key question that many offices need answered is if your Licensed Massage Therapist is an Independent Contractor do you need to have a massage establishment license? The answer is yes, because the operative sentence of the exemption reads: “This section does not apply to a physician licensed under… chapter 460 who employs a licensed massage therapist to perform massage on the physician’s patients at the physician’s place of practice.” Be aware that an independent contractor is not an employee, and therefore the exemption will never apply if the massage therapist is an independent contractor. read more

Health Care Clinics Targeted For Medical Director Requirements

February 9th, 2021 by

By: Zach Simpson

There have been a rise in cases recently, in which practices that operate under a Health Care Clinic License have been brought under scrutiny by insurance companies trying to recoup funds through any means possible. In an effort to claw back funds insurance companies are beginning to claim that medical directors are failing to meet their statutory obligations under Florida Law which in turn can have serious monetary repercussions. Due to the clinics allegedly failing to meet their statutory obligations the insurance companies are filing suit to recoup any payments made while violating the Health Care Clinic Act obligations, and to stall any future payments due until such cases are heard.

By law, a medical director must be a health care practitioner that holds an active and unencumbered Florida license as a medical physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or podiatric physician. The type of services provided at a clinic may dictate who would be able to serve as a clinic’s medical director, because a medical director must be authorized under the law to supervise all services provided at the clinic.

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