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)
The term “payment for referral” strikes fear in the hearts of health care providers throughout the country because of the significant prohibitions under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS). And, Florida’s Patient Brokering Act (PBA) casts an even bigger shadow over arrangements involving payment in exchange for referrals. There are other statutory restrictions as well, which may apply depending upon the services for which a referral is being made. Those include but are not limited to statutes prohibiting physician fee-splitting and the federal Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA) (applicable to referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, or laboratories in an effort to stave off growing opioid-related fraud), and the potential collateral damage of a false claim under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) if any of the above statutes are violated.
So, is there any scenario where a payment may be made by a health care provider in exchange for referrals? The answer is yes- there is a safe harbor under the AKS (42 U.S. C. §1320a-7b(b)) specifically for such arrangements. This safe harbor is not commonly used and likely means revision to existing arrangements to come into compliance with its specific requirements. But it may be worth considering if the referral (and payment for that referral) is not otherwise prohibited as noted above.
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.
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.
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.
Congress passed the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) in 1988. CLIA established quality standards for all laboratory testing to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of patient test results regardless of where the test was performed. In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the CLIA Quality Systems laboratory regulations. The quality system approach includes a laboratory’s policies, processes, procedures, and resources needed to obtain consistent, high quality testing services.
The laboratory must be under the direction of a qualified person and that person must fulfill all responsibilities of the lab director as outlined by CLIA. CLIA prohibits a laboratory director from directing more than five non-waived laboratories. Some states may have additional restrictions regarding the number of labs the lab director can direct. The lab director must meet education and experience requirements to hold the position and meet all requirements of the position. The responsibilities include ensuring that there are sufficient personnel with adequate experience and training and make sure that every position in the lab is staffed by a person who is qualified to have the position and can perform all tasks required of the position.
Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Round 2021 is now in full effect as of January 1, 2021. (See previous articles about what CBID Round 2021 is all about).
DME providers either participated in the process with hopes of being awarded a bid, or they abstained from doing so. Of those who participated, with Medicare’s recent bid winner announcements, bid winners were happy and bid losers, well not so much – as only those providers awarded a contract could service a Medicare Part B beneficiary for competitively bid product(s) for patients residing in competitive bid areas (“CBA”).
Now what? What are the options for the relationships between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in moving forward, if any? Let’s briefly discuss subcontracting.
COVID-19 has affected all aspects of everyday life and healthcare rules and regulations are no exception. All areas of healthcare have been impacted, including the patient’s financial responsibility for healthcare services in the form of co-insurance, copays and deductibles. The waiver of a patient’s financial responsibility for healthcare services is regulated by federal and state law. The waiver of co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles has been deemed a violation of the federal Anti-Kickback statue. A provider who routinely waives the patient’s financial obligation may be violating the participating provider agreement with commercial carriers, state law and federal law with respect to Medicare beneficiaries. Waiving patient fees is seen as an inducement to the patient to prefer one provider over another for financial reasons. However, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and commercial carriers have been authorized by the federal government to waive patient financial responsibility during the pandemic in order to encourage the public to get treated for COVID-19 and non-COVID medical conditions without fear of a hefty bill.
COVID-19 has devastated the US economy, including many parts of our Healthcare sector. The Federal Government, along with most States, have begun to respond with various financial incentives, ranging from straight out grants to loans, and everything in between. The following is an overview of some of the assistance that is currently available for the Healthcare community, along with some tips that may assist your company in applying, and what you need to do if you are lucky enough to receive some money:
The CARES Act
Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”). Essentially a grant from the Federal Government for payroll, employee benefits, rent/mortgage, utilities for 8 weeks. This program is available for all small businesses, and is managed through banks and private financial institutions.
Apply with multiple financial institutions, and whoever comes through first take the loan/grant;
If you receive the money keep excellent records;
You can only use the money for W-2 employees, not 1099 contractors;
There are strict rules with respect to the number of employees, and their maximum salary. The NUMBER of employees before and after the loan is critical, not the actual employee, so if you laid off someone, you don’t have to hire back that particular person, you can use the money for a new employee who fills the same position; and
If you don’t use all the money for payroll etc, don’t worry, you can either pay it back in a lump sum, or pay it back over time at 1% interest.
The new rules and temporary waivers to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be changing everyday and questions about telemedicine seem to be flying in. Even though CMS has created some flexibility during this incredibly uncertain time telemedicine laws remain tricky and one size does not fit all! Join Attorney Susan St. John of the Florida Healthcare Law Firm for this informative presentation and get questions answered about the new rules, the setup basics, the billing recommendations and the potential pitfalls.
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.