Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.
The use of, and billing of hot and cold packs in the chiropractic setting with Medicare patients is quite often misunderstood. More often than not it is overbilled, because it is difficult to appropriately establish appropriate rationale to prove medical necessity for this to be separately billed in the office. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has published this guidance for the proper use of the service:
“It is the position of the American Chiropractic Association that the work of hot/cold packs as described by CPT code 97010 is not included in the CMT codes 98940-43 in instances when moist heat or cryotherapy is medically necessary to achieve a specific physiological effect that is thought to be beneficial to the patient.Indications for the application of moist heat include, but are not limited to, relaxation of muscle spasticity, induction of local analgesia and general sedation, promotion of vasodilation and increase in lymph flow to the area. Indications for the application of cryotherapy include, but are not limited to, relaxation of muscle spasticity, induction of local analgesia and general sedation, promotion of vasodilation and increase of lymph flow to the area.”read more
Today marks a big win for Chiropractors, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and other medical providers that treat patients as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Legislation was presented earlier this year which would have completely changed how the personal injury protection (“PIP”) industry would impact medical providers. The legislation is known as Senate Bill 54 (“SB 54”).
SB 54 was sought to end the requirement that Floridians purchase $10,000 in PIP coverage and would instead require mandatory bodily injury (“MBI”) coverage that would pay out up to $25,000 for a crash-related injury or death. This would have meant that for each case before a provider would be paid by the patient’s car insurance coverage, fault would have to be determined through litigation which would have increased the time it would have taken providers to be paid. In today’s landscape providers are able to bill the patient’s PIP coverage for the initial $10,000, and be paid 80% of the billed charges immediately, and if this law would have passed each treating provider would have had to either bill the patient’s health insurance, or treat patients on letters of protection.
In Governor DeSantis’s veto letter he wrote, “While the PIP system has flaws and Florida law regarding bad faith is deficient SB 54 does not adequately address the current issues facing Florida drivers and may have unintended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers.”
Due to the potential repercussions this legislation would have had on an entire industry it is very important for all medical providers today to continue and evolve with the changing landscape. Although providers can take a breather today, because the battle is now over, they must begin to think about how their practices would have been impacted if they could have only billed patient’s health insurance or treated patients on letters of protection. Many providers that I have spoken with were not sure what they would have done, and one piece of advice I always give is that now is the time to start thinking ahead to the future. Meaning, if this law were to present itself again you all have to ask yourself would your practice be able to survive not being paid for months or years? Providers need to start considering how they can better evolve to provide better care to their patients while still being able to survive in the event PIP is repealed in the future.
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
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:
Does my progress note contain a medically appropriate history and examination?
Were my diagnoses addressed appropriately?
Did I document all orders and data reviewed?
Were other professionals included in my documentation that I worked with?
Was an independent historian used?
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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