Category: Medical Billing and Coding

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What Makes A New Patient “New”?

A patient makes an appointment at your clinic and “has never been seen before”, you bill a new patient visit only to have the payer reject the claim, stating, “New patient qualifications have not been met”.

So, what went wrong?  Not all Evaluation and Management (E/M) codes fall under the new (versus established) categories.  For example, if the patient presents through the Emergency Department, the patient is always new, and the provider is always expected to get the patient’s history to diagnose a problem.  However, in the office setting, the patient sees their primary provider routinely.  The provider knows- or can quickly access- the patient’s history to manage their chronic conditions, as well as make decisions on recent problems.

The definition of a new patient in the CPT code book is: “one who has not received any professional services from the physician/qualified health care professional or another physician/qualified health care professional of the exact same specialty and subspecialty who belongs to the same group practice, within the past three years.”  In addition to this definition, CMS adds “an interpretation of a diagnostic test, reading an X-ray or EKG etc., in the absence of an E/M service or other face to face service with the patient does not affect the designation of a new patient.”[i]

Three key components that make up a new patient are:

  1. Professional Service (not modifier 26)– If the provider has never seen the patient face to face, a new patient code should be billed.
  2. Three-year rule- the general rule to determine if a patient is “new” is to check to see if that patient has been seen in the past three years. Check your dates on this-if the patient was seen the last time in May of 2015 and its March of 2018, it hasn’t been three years, according to the payer.
  3. Different specialty/subspecialty within the same group is possibly the most confusing. For Medicare patients, use the NPI registry to see what specialty the physician’s taxonomy is registered under.  The credentialing process is of upmost importance in ensuring no denials happen due to improper credentialing.

What happens when doctors switch practices?

If a doctor changes practices and takes his patients with him, the provider cannot bill for the patient as a new patient based on the “new” tax ID.  The tax ID doesn’t matter because the provider has already seen these patients and has established a history.  Just because the patient is being seen in a new facility, that patient is still seeing the same provider.

What happens when a provider sends the patient to mid-level provider?

When an MD or DO sends a patient to a mid-level provider (Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Assistant) and the visit is not an incident-to, the mid-level provider could bill a new patient code if they are a different specialty with different taxonomy codes.  An example would be a family practitioner and the mid-level sees hematology patients.  Since the specialty is different, the mid-level could bill as a new patient visit.  However, if the mid-level is also considered family practice, then a new patient visit code could not be used.

Of course, in billing there are always exceptions to the rules.

For example:

  • For some Medicaid plans, obstetric providers need to bill an initial prenatal visit with a new patient code, even if they have seen the patient for years prior to the patient’s pregnancy. Make sure you check your own local rules and Medicaid plans if you are billing obstetrics.
  • Hospitalists and Internal Medicine providers are the same specialty according to Medicare, even though each has a different taxonomy code.

If a new patient claim is denied, look to the medical record to see if the patient has been seen in the past three years by your group.  If so, check to see if the patient was seen by the same provider or a provider of the same specialty by checking the NPI registry website.  It’s always helpful to know how the provider is registered with the payer denying the claim.  If in researching all of this, there isn’t any substantiating evidence to support the denial, appeal the claim.

 

[i] Medicare Claims processing manual, chapter 12-Physican/Nonphysician Practitioners (30.6.7)

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New PT CPT Codes for 2017

pt-with-patient

CPT® 2017 has a few expanded codes for physical therapy evaluations and follow-up exams.  These codes are in effect for dates of service starting January 1, 2017.

97001 to be replaced by three codes in 2017:

These new codes will add more specificity and details regarding the scope of the evaluation and states that it involves clinical decision-making of low/moderate/high complexity. The evaluation includes history to identify any factors that impact the plan of care; using standardized tests and measures to assess body structures and functions that may limit activity or restrict participation; and evaluation of the patient’s current status on presentation. The evaluation typically includes face-to-face time with the patient and/or family.

97161 Physical therapy evaluation: low complexity, requiring these components: A history with no personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body system(s) using standardized tests and measures addressing 1-2 elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; A clinical presentation with stable and/or uncomplicated characteristics; and Clinical decision making of low complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 20 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.
97162 Physical therapy evaluation: moderate complexity, requiring these components: A history of present problem with 1-2 personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body systems using standardized tests and measures in addressing a total of 3 or more elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; An evolving clinical presentation with changing characteristics; and Clinical decision making of moderate complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 30 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.
97163 Physical therapy evaluation: high complexity, requiring these components: A history of present problem with 3 or more personal factors and/or comorbidities that impact the plan of care; An examination of body systems using standardized tests and measures addressing a total of 4 or more elements from any of the following: body structures and functions, activity limitations, and/or participation restrictions; A clinical presentation with unstable and unpredictable characteristics; and Clinical decision making of high complexity using standardized patient assessment instrument and/or measurable assessment of functional outcome. Typically, 45 minutes are spent face-to-face with the patient and/or family.

CPT® 2017 adds 97164 to replace 97002 (Physical therapy re-evaluation).

The new code adds more specificity and details regarding the scope of the evaluation, which includes history review and standardized tests (criteria established and agreed upon by a group of experts) and measures to assess body structure and function; a revised plan of care using standardized instrument and measurable functional outcome assessment tool; and typically involves 20 minutes of face-to-face time with patient and/or family.

Consider these to be the equivalent of E&M codes (99000) for Physical Therapy.  You should now consider these elements when coding for services:

  • Patient’s history
  • Examination results
  • Clinical decision-making
  • Development of the care plan

The level of the PT evaluation performed depends on the clinical decision-making and the patient’s severity, according to CPT® instruction. For reporting, PTs must demonstrate review of these body regions and body systems:

  • Defined body regions such as the head, neck, back, lower extremities, upper extremities, and trunk
  • Musculoskeletal systems, which include gross symmetry, range of motion, strength, height, and weight
  • Neuromuscular systems, which includes gross coordinated movement and motor function
  • Cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, which include heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, and edema
  • Integumentary system, which means assessing the pliability, scar formation, color, and integrity of the skin

One other thing-make sure to sequence these codes before your modality CPT codes (those starting at 97010).

OT and AT have similar changes.  Look for those in a future post.

References:
CPT® 2017 Professional Edition, American Medical Association, pages 664-668
Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 136, Pat. 46162, July 15, 2016, “Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other revisions to Part B for CY 2017; Medicare Advantage Pricing Data Release: Medicare Advantage and Part D Medicare Advantage Provider Network Requirements’; Expansion of Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Model”
AAPC Healthcare Business Monthly, November 2016

 

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It’s the holiday season….time to spread the Flu!

santa-hat

With all the weather changes we have experienced in the south over the past few months, getting the flu has been the last thing on anyone’s mind.  80 degree temps here in Kentucky in November is unheard of!  We’ve all been taking advantage of getting out in the fresh air (flu?  what flu?).

Well, now we are experiencing our first “Arctic Blast” and my first trip to Kroger this week resulted in witnessing probably the most embarrassing thing we as parents experience….projectile vomiting from a child in the grocery store.  Okay, maybe not the most embarrassing thing in the world but one that certainly had me running for the hand sanitizer and masks (no-I didn’t stick around to help).

And yes, remembering that in fact, the flu season is upon us.

Guidelines for Billing Influenza Vaccines

Medicare pays for one seasonal influenza virus vaccination per influenza season (12 months do not have to pass). Annual Part B deductible and coinsurance amounts do not apply for the influenza virus and the pneumococcal vaccinations. All physicians, non-physician practitioners, and suppliers who administer these vaccinations must take assignment on the claim for the vaccine.

Medicare will pay both administration fees when a beneficiary receives both the seasonal influenza virus and the pneumococcal vaccines on the same day. Report ICD-10-CM diagnosis code Z23 Encounter for immunization when an individual receives both vaccines, but report separate administration codes for the seasonal influenza virus (G0008) and pneumococcal (G0009) vaccines.

Medicare Payment Allowances for this flu season (8/1/2016-7/31/2017)

CPT® Code Payment Allowance
90630 Influenza split virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), preservative free, for intradermal use $20.343
90653 Influenza virus vaccine, inactivated, subunit, adjuvanted, for intramuscular use $37.383
90654 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, preservative-free, for intradermal use Pending
90655 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, preservative free, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use Pending
90656 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, preservative free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $17.717
90657 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (IIV3), split virus, when administered to children 6–35 months of age, for intramuscular use Pending
90661 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (ccIIV3), derived from cell cultures, subunit, preservative and antibiotic free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use Pending
90662 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, preservative free, enhanced immunogenicity via increased antigen content, for intramuscular use $42.722
90672 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent, live (LAIV4), for intranasal use $26.876
90673 Influenza virus vaccine, trivalent (RIV3), derived from recombinant DNA (RIV3), hemagglutinin (HA) protein only, preservative and antibiotic free, for intramuscular use $40.613
90674 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (ccIIV4), derived from cell cultures, subunit, preservative and antibiotic free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use

*NOTE-Claims for this code must be held until 1/1/17

$22.936
90685 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, preservative free, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $26.268
90686 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, preservative free, 0.5 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $19.032
90687 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, when administered to children 6–35 months of age, for intramuscular use $9.403
90688 Influenza virus vaccine, quadrivalent (IIV4), split virus, 0.25 mL dosage, for intramuscular use $17.835

 

HCPCS Level II Code Payment Allowance
Q2035 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Afluria) $16.284
Q2036 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Flulaval) $16.284
Q2037 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Fluvirin) Pending
Q2038 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (Fluzone) Pending
Q2039 Influenza virus vaccine, split virus, when administered to individuals 3 years of age and older, for intramuscular use (not otherwise specified) Flu Vaccine Adult – Not Otherwise Classified: Payment allowance is to be determined by the local claims processing contractor.

The payment allowance for some codes is still pending. Check the CMS website periodically for updates.

Resources:

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Part-B-Drugs/McrPartBDrugAvgSalesPrice/VaccinesPricing.html

https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/FFSProvPartProg/Provider-Partnership-Email-Archive-Items/2016-12-08-eNews.html?DLPage=1&DLEntries=10&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=descending#_Toc468862699