What’s Current in Coding? EZClaim Answers

EZClaim-What's Current In CodingEZClaim is always looking for ways to help our medical billing clients improve. In an effort to further that mission, this month we are kicking off the first in a series called, “What’s Current in Coding.” In this series, we will highlight coding topics, events, webinars, and more, all with the aim of keeping you current in medical billing and coding.

This month our focus came from two articles on coding sourced from the AMBA Newsletter that we feel are hot topics of the industry: “Coding for Group Visits” and the “Telehealth Coding Guide.”

Below you will find full articles and source links.

 

ARTICLE 1: “Coding for Group Visits”
Many physicians are interested in providing group medical visits. Whether the drop-in group medical appointment (DIGMA), chronic care health clinic (CCHC) or other model is delivered, the coding and billing of these services raise questions about codes and payment policies.

While past instruction on coding for group visits often indicated that physicians should report code 99499 for unlisted evaluation and management services, using this code requires that documentation is sent with the claim to identify the service(s) provided and leaves valuing of the service in the hands of the payer.

No official payment or coding rules have been published by Medicare. However, the question of “the most appropriate CPT code to submit when billing for a documented face-to-face evaluation and management (E/M) service performed in the course of a shared medical appointment, the context of which is educational”, was sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with a request for an official response. The request further clarified, “In other words, is Medicare payment for CPT code 99213, or other similar evaluation and management codes, dependent upon the service being provided in a private exam room or can these codes be billed if the identical service is provided in front of other patients in the course of a shared medical appointment?”

The response from CMS was, “…under existing CPT codes and Medicare rules, a physician could furnish a medically necessary face-to-face E/M visit (CPT code 99213 or similar code depending on level of complexity) to a patient that is observed by other patients. From a payment perspective, there is no prohibition on group members observing while a physician provides a service to another beneficiary.” The letter went on to state that any activities of the group (including group counseling activities) should not impact the level of code reported for the individual patient.

Some private payers have instructed physicians to bill an office visit (99201-99215) based on the entire group visit. For compliance purposes, we recommend that you ask for these instructions in writing and keep them on file as you would any other advice from a payer.

Where each individual patient is provided a medically necessary, one-on-one encounter, in addition to the time in the group discussions, there should be no problem in billing for the visit based solely on the documented services provided in a direct one-on-one encounter.

If your group visits include the services of nutritionists or a behavioral health specialist, contact payers to determine if that portion of the group visit can be directly billed by the non-physician provider. This typically would include codes for medical nutrition therapy (97804) or health and behavior intervention (96153).

Other codes that may be applicable are the codes for education and training for patient self-management involving a standardized curriculum (98961-98962). Neither these codes nor medical nutrition or behavioral health therapy are billed by physicians. Physicians must use evaluation and management codes to report these services.

Code 99078 describes physician educational services in a group. Again, it is necessary to contact the payer to verify that coverage of this service is a payable benefit.

As with many services, coding for group visits requires that billing and coding staff do preliminary work with payers to identify desired coding applications.

Source: https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/practice-and-career/getting-paid/coding/group-visits.html

 

ARTICLE 2: “Telehealth Coding Guide”
There’s nothing more frustrating than rendering a service and not being paid. Nuanced coding rules are difficult to understand, and physicians aren’t taught this information in medical school.

Still, health care is a business. As business owners, physicians need to know how they’re paid, including what codes to use, what modifiers to append, and what details to document. Brushing up on common coding mistakes helps avoid costly recoupments and denials. We’ve asked several coding experts to provide their best advice on how physicians can maintain compliance and collect all of the revenue to which they’re entitled.

In part 1 of our two-part coding guide, we focused on coding for Telehealth and other forms of remote patient care — important codes for physician practices’ short-term survival as the U.S. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telephone services
In times of social distancing, telephone services have become a practical way to improve patient access and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Telephone services are ideal for straightforward problems (e.g., simple rash, asymptomatic cough, medication refills) that require a minimum of five minutes of medical discussion, says Toni Elhoms, CCS, CPC, chief executive officer of Alpha Coding Experts, LLC, in Orlando, Florida. Consider the following codes that Medicare accepts during the current public health emergency (PHE). Commercial payers may accept these codes, as well. Note that once the PHE has concluded, Medicare may only accept G2012 (virtual check-in) for telephone services.

Elhoms provides these tips to ensure compliance:

  • Document verbal consent, including patient acknowledgment and acceptance of any copayments or coinsurance amounts due.
  • Only count time spent on the phone engaging in medical discussion with the patient or caregiver. Do not report these codes for conversations lasting less than five minutes.
  • Clearly document what was discussed, as well as the outcome of the conversation (e.g., medications prescribed, referrals to specialists, additional steps for the patient to take).
  • Don’t report these codes when the telephone service ends with a decision to see the patient in 24 hours or the next available appointment.
  • Don’t report these codes when the telephone service relates to a related E/M service performed within the previous seven days or within the postoperative period of a previously completed procedure.
  • Only provide 99441-99443 and 98966-98968 for established patients. During the PHE, Medicare permits providers to bill G2012 for new and established patients.

‘The best way to operationalize these codes is to set up an edit in the practice management system that pends claims for a manual review to determine whether and which services are ultimately billable, Elhoms says.

Telehealth services
In the last few months, providers have adopted Telehealth to improve patient access and generate revenue during COVID-19. Among the services physicians can render via Telehealth to patients with Medicare during the current PHE are Medicare annual wellness visits, new and established patient office visits, prolonged services, smoking, and tobacco cessation counseling, annual depression and alcohol screenings, advanced care planning, and more. Medicare covers more than 200 services via Telehealth, many of which were added for temporary coverage during the current PHE. Commercial payer coverage of these services may vary, and it’s best to check with individual payers, Elhoms says.

Elhoms provides these tips for billing Telehealth services:

  • Pay attention to audio-only vs. audio-visual requirements. Medicare requires the use of audio-visual technology for certain Telehealth services and permits audio-only for others. Commercial payers also may have specific requirements. For example, physicians can render a Telehealth visit for advanced care planning using audio-only, but they must use audio-visual technology for a new patient telehealth office visit.
  • Don’t render Medicare’s Initial Preventive Physical Exam via Telehealth. Medicare does not permit it.
  • Document verbal consent for Telehealth, including patient acceptance of any copayments or coinsurance amounts due.
  • Use place of service (POS) code 11 and modifier -95 when billing Medicare. Note that commercial payers may require a different POS code (e.g., POS 2 or POS “other”) and modifier.
  • Document, document, document. Physicians need to prove they met all of the code requirements even when rendering the service via Telehealth, Elhoms says. “Don’t pull in a problem list if you didn’t treat or manage all of those problems,” she adds. “Physicians need to link the diagnosis with the assessment and treatment plan. That’s imperative.” One caveat is that during the current PHE, physicians can bill 99201-99215 rendered via Telehealth based on time or medical decision-making. “The total time in direct medical discussion with the patient is going to be critical,” Elhoms says.

“The best advice I can give anyone doing Telehealth right now is to watch the CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] and commercial payer websites pretty much on a daily basis,” says Rhonda Buckholtz, CPC, CPMA, owner of Coding and Reimbursement Experts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The coding of services changes constantly, and practices really need to be careful.”

Online digital E/M services
Though online digital E/M services are relatively new, they also can help practices increase patient access during COVID-19. Here’s how it works: An established patient initiates a conversation through a HIPAA-compliant secure platform (e.g., electronic health record portals, secure email, secure texting). A physician or other qualified health care professional reviews the query, as well as any pertinent data and records. Then they develop a management plan and subsequently communicate that plan to the patient or their caregiver through online, telephone, email or other digitally supported communication.

Elhoms provides these tips to maintain compliance:

  • Use these codes when physicians or other qualified health care professionals make a clinical decision that would otherwise occur during an office visit. Do not use them for scheduling appointments or nonevaluative communication of test results.
  • Use these codes only for established patients.
  • Do not use these codes for fewer than five minutes of E/M services.
  • Document verbal consent, including patient acknowledgment and acceptance of any copayments or coinsurance amounts due.
  • Do not report these codes when the online digital E/M service ends with a decision to see the patient in 24 hours or the next available urgent visit appointment.
  • Do not report these codes when the online digital E/M service relates to a related E/M service performed within the previous seven days or within the postoperative period of a previously completed procedure.

Promoting these services is often the biggest barrier, says Elhoms, who suggests putting up signs letting patients know they can access their provider electronically for non-urgent medical issues.

Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a relatively easy way for physicians to keep tabs on patients without requiring them to come into the office. Medicare covers RPM for patients with one or more acute or chronic conditions, and commercial payer coverage may vary. During the PHE, physicians can initiate RPM on new and established patients. Normally, Medicare permits it only for established patients.

RPM consists of two forms: monitoring data through either a non-manual or manual data transfer, says Jim Collins, CPC, CCC, a consultant at CardiologyCoder.com, Inc. in Saratoga Springs, New York.

For example, physicians can remotely monitor a patient’s pulse oximetry, weight, blood pressure or respiratory flow rate using a device that transmits daily recordings or programmed alerts. Physicians can purchase them directly from manufacturers or patients can purchase the devices themselves. Collins says patients should look for Bluetooth-enabled devices or ones that include a built-in Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) transmitter. The former requires an Internet connection, and the latter automatically transmits data to an internet cloud service through an encrypted bandwidth. Physicians can bill for the initial setup, cost of the device itself (when applicable), and data monitoring.

Another example is the self-measured blood pressure monitoring. When patients supply their own blood pressure device that a physician calibrates, physicians may be able to bill for patient education, device calibration, reviewing the data that the patient provides and communicating a treatment plan to the patient or caregiver.

“Monitoring physiologic data on a regular basis substantially reduces hospitalizations, trips to the emergency room and exacerbations of chronic conditions,” says Collins. “It can also be a huge chunk of revenue.”

Collins provides these tips for compliant RPM billing:

  • Document patient consent. Patients must opt-in for these services.
  • Document total time spent rendering these services to support time-based requirements.
  • Know when these codes are appropriate. It’s unclear whether Medicare will pay physicians for monitoring physiologic data derived from internal devices (devices placed within the patient’s body) or data derived from wearable fitness devices.
  • Only bill 99457 when the provider renders at least 20 minutes of live, interactive communication with the patient or caregiver. “It’s not going to be medically necessary to spend 20 minutes every month on every patient,” Collins says. “Patients could go for several months without physicians needing to do anything for them.”

Source: https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/telehealth-coding-guide


 

What’s Current in Coding?” is brought to you by EZClaim, a medical billing solution. To find out if it may work for you, either schedule a one-on-one consultation with their sales team, or download a FREE TRIAL to check it out the software yourself. For additional information right now, view their web site, send an e-mail to sales@ezclaim.com, or contact the sales team at 877.650.0904.

2020 MIPS Reporting is Half Over. What Do You Need to Do Right Now?

The 2020 MIPS reporting is already half done, and given that MIPS (Merit-based Incentive Payment System) is a points-based program, the goal is to earn as many points as possible to avoid this year’s 9% penalty and potentially even earn a positive payment adjustment.  However, earning the 45 points necessary to avoid the penalty for the 2020 reporting period will be no easy feat. With over half of the reporting period already behind us, it is imperative you ACT NOW so you don’t find yourself in position later in the year that you can’t recover from in terms of earning points.

2020 MIPS Reporting

 

With all the complexities and nuances of the program, its challenging to know what you can do to impact your score.  Here are three critical actions to take right now so that you will still optimize your ability to earn points for the 2020 reporting period:

1. Focus on the Quality Category
There are various points available within each of the categories and the Quality Category has the most points associated with it. Based on a number of factors, the category is worth anywhere from 45 to 85 points.  This is a critical category to be focused on throughout the year, so now is the time to ensure that you are tracking all relevant data so that it can be properly reported on within your submission.

2. Understand the Timeframe Requirements
Two of these categories, Promoting Interoperability and Improvement Activities, have timeframe requirements where you must perform for a minimum of 90 continuous days.  These are not easy categories in which to be successful and so if you wait too long in the year you will find it impossible to put the right actions in place in order to complete the activities necessary to earn any of the points in these categories.

3. Choose the Right Reporting Methodology
Not all reporting methodologies are the same and the reporting methodology you select has a significant impact on the points you could earn.  Additionally, there is strategic maneuvering that can be done throughout the reporting period with exemptions and reweighting of points that can set you up to optimize your performance and your score.  Therefore, you must select a reporting partner that will help you earn the most points available and leverages technology to facilitate the ease, accuracy, and completeness of tracking and reporting to maximize your score.  Reporting via a CEHRT, like Health eFilings, is the best approach because it optimizes the points that could be earned and therefore, maximizes Medicare reimbursements.


Health eFilings
is a certified EHR technology (CEHRT) and the national leader in automated MIPS reporting. Their cloud-based ONC certified software fully automates the reporting process.  Because Health eFilings’ service is an end-to-end electronic solution that doesn’t require any IT resources, administrative support, or workflow changes from you, the practice will save significant time while maximizing its financial upside.

To learn more about how to properly perform your 2020 MIPS reporting, contact EZClaim’s partner, Health eFilings, so they can help before its too late!


For details and features about EZClaim’s medical billing software, or general information about the company, visit their website
.

[ Written by Sarah Reiter, SVP Strategic Partnerships, Health eFilings ]

Watch Medical Billing Webinar on Telehealth

Medical Billing Webinar on TelehealthA recent medical billing webinar on Telehealth that EZclaim hosted is now available to review.

On April 30th, EZClaim hosted a Telehealth Updates Webinar for our clients with guest speaker Sandy Giangreco Brown – Director of Coding and Revenue Integrity Health Care at CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP

We had one of the largest viewing audiences 101 active attendees in the session. Sandy shared informative billing codes and direct links to update hands-on information for billers actively coding Telehealth sessions. For those of you who missed it, we have provided on our website the recorded session ezclaim.com/webinars and can provide the presentation slides too! Just send a request to: sales@ezclaim.com

We continue to get views of this presentation and look forward to hosting more hot topics with the CLA Team.

With the onset of COVID-19 came a great opportunity for clinics and hospitals to offer Telehealth and Communication Technology Based (CTSB) services. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, have provided many updates to the available services that can be provided and billed to the patients to help practices not only stay afloat financially but also and most importantly, to keep their staff safe and provide excellent care to their patients!

There were new guidelines released even after this webinar on 4/30/2020 (which can be found here – https://www.cms.gov/files/document/se20016.pdf, and now includes audio only Telehealth for services such as psychotherapy, tobacco cessation and medical nutrition counseling as well as diabetes self-management training. CMS is also increasing the payments for the Audio Only services from $14-$41 nationally to $46-$110.

As of April 30, 2020, in order to bill Telehealth, RHCs are now required to bill the G2025–CG–95 from January 27, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Then on July 1, 2020 to the end of the PHE, they will be billing the G2025 with an optional 95 modifier, per CMS SE20016 Medicare Learning Network Transmittal.

FQHCs will need to report three (3) codes for their Telehealth Services:

  1. G0467 (or other appropriate FQHC specific payment code)
  2. 99214–95 (or other FQHC PPS Qualifying Payment Code)
  3. G2025–95

CLA is on the frontlines and closely monitoring and analyzing activities related to Telehealth and other virtual health regulations

CMS Telehealth fact sheet, Frequently Ask Questions:

As your practice adjusts to Telehealth going forward, EZclaim’s medical billing solution can help you simplify patient billing and help you get paid for Telehealth visits. (Our recent medical billing webinar on Telehealth may just help you better understand the current situation).

So, to help you investigate how EZclaim’s medical billing solution may work for you, either schedule a one-on-one consultation with our sales team, or download a FREE TRIAL to check it out the software yourself. For additional information right now, contact EZclaim’s sales team at 877.650.0904 or send an e-mail to sales@ezclaim.com.

[Contributed by Sandy Giangreco Brown – Director of Coding and Revenue Integrity Health Care, CliftonLarsenAllen LLP]

CMS HHS Updates Telehealth Regulations

Telehealth RegulationsSince CMS HHS just updated their Telehealth regulations to adjust to the COVID-19 environment—including having a remote workforce—we wanted to provide a clear update to independent physicians and billers to advise them of the fast moving changes of many regulations, and what to expect in the near future.

It is important to note that CMS has recently announced that new and established patients have availability to Telehealth, and HHS OIG is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost sharing for Telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs. CMS is also expanding Telehealth services to people with medicare.

As a result, please see the below video from CMS which highlights the Medicare Coverage and Payment of Virtual Services and Telehealth.

In addition, we’ve included a few key questions and answers below. If you have further questions about Telehealth and your compliance, contact Jim Johnson with Live Compliance at Jim@LiveCompliance.com or (980) 999-1585.

1. Who can provide Telehealth services?

    • Physicians
    • Nurse Practitioners
    • Physician assistants
    • Nurse midwives
    • Certified nurse anesthetists
    • Clinical psychologists
    • Registered dietitians
    • Nutrition professionals

2. What services can a medicare beneficiary receive through Telehealth?

    • Evaluation and management visits (common office visits)
    • Mental health counseling
    • Preventive health screenings
    • More than 80 additional services

3. What are the types of virtual services?

    • Medicare Telehealth visits
    • Virtual check ins
    • E-visits
    • Telephone services

Live Compliance is an EZclaim premier partner for HIPAA compliance, and is integrated into EZclaim’s billing solution.

If you have any further questions about Telehealth regulations and your compliance, e-mail Jim Johnson at Live Compliance at Jim@LiveCompliance.com, or phone him at (980) 999-1585.

[Contribution by Jim Johnson with the Live Compliance]

The 2020 MIPS Program – Any Changes?

There WILL NOT be any changes to the MIPS Program in 2020, so all payers must be submitted and a minimum of 45 points must be earned to avoid the 9% penalty.

On March 23, 2020, CMS made it perfectly clear that MIPS Program is not going away in 2020.  It also reiterated that the data requirements and thresholds in place for the 2020 program have not changed.  Additionally, Promoting Interoperability and Improvement Activities must be done for the required durations or no points will be earned for those categories.

To put this in context, while the stakes have been raised every year, the final ruling for the 2020 reporting period is the most complex to-date, further increasing the stress, burden and financial risk for over 900,000 clinicians who bill Medicare Part B.  Failure to comply or earn enough points for the 2020 reporting period will result in an automatic 9% penalty on every Medicare Part B claim paid for an entire year. This equates to a minimum of a $8,100 per provider hit to the bottom line.
2020 MIPS Chart

Given the unprecedented time when everyone’s bottom line is at risk, now is the time to get a handle on what’s at risk with the MIPS program and proactively engage to ensure your bottom line is not further jeopardized by being assessed a 9% penalty.  It can be challenging to know exactly what you need to do to earn points, optimize your score, and protect your Medicare reimbursements, as there are many commonly misunderstood aspects and nuances with the MIPS program.

So, with what is at stake and the inherent complexity in earning points, it is critical that you select the right methodology and partner who can help you maximize reimbursements and protect your bottom line. Not all reporting methodologies are the same.

Health eFilings‘ CEHRT is the best choice for a reporting partner. Their cloud-based ONC certified software fully automates the process and does all the work without any IT resources, administrative support and workflow changes from the practice.  Health eFilings service is an end-to-end electronic solution that will save significant time, be a turn-key submission process, and maximize the financial upside for providers.

As more than 25% of the 2020 reporting period is behind us, now is the time to act while there is still plenty of time to positively impact your results and points earned.

Health eFiling provides the nation’s only fully automated solution for MIPS compliance and is integrated with EZclaim’s billing solution. Click on the following link for more details: https://healthefilings.com/ezclaim

[Contribution by Sarah Reiter with the Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships]

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