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Note from the instructor: Billing Outpatient Laboratory Services – TOB 131 vs. TOB 141

This week’s note from the instructor is written by Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CHCO, regulatory specialist for HCPro, Inc.
 

Since the implementation of the calendar year (CY) 2014 Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) final rule, there has been much confusion and discussion regarding the requirement to bill certain outpatient lab services on Type of Bill (TOB) 141 rather than TOB 131. Under the new OPPS packaging rules, reimbursement for most outpatient lab services is bundled into other separately payable services on the outpatient claim, excluding molecular pathology.

As of January 1, 2014, date of service, CMS expanded the use of TOB 14X to allow separate billing and payment at Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) rates for hospital outpatient laboratory tests. However, this change is not only counterintuitive for facilities, it also creates major operational issues.

Historically and by definition, TOB 14X is for non-patient (specimen only) lab services where the patient does not receive outpatient services on the same date of service. Prior to January 1, 2014, the non-patient lab services were easy for hospitals to identify and systematically direct the claim to process under TOB 141. Under the new billing guidance, hospitals have had to create back-end processes and in some cases, separate review by staff to identify if the outpatient lab should be billed on TOB 141 to receive separate reimbursement under the “exceptions” guidance provided by CMS.

According to the Medicare Claims Processing Manual Transmittal 2845, lab tests may be (or must be for a non-patient specimen) billed on a 14X claim in the following circumstances:
  1. Non-patient laboratory specimen tests; non-patient continues to be defined as a beneficiary that is neither an inpatient nor an outpatient of a hospital, but that has a specimen that is submitted for analysis to a hospital and the beneficiary is not physically present at the hospital;
  2. Beginning in 2014, when the hospital only provides laboratory tests to the patient (directly or under arrangement) and the patient does not also receive other hospital outpatient services during that same encounter; and
  3. Beginning in 2014, when the hospital provides a laboratory test (directly or under arrangement) during the same encounter as other hospital outpatient services that is clinically unrelated to the other hospital outpatient services, and the laboratory test is ordered by a different practitioner than the practitioner who ordered the other hospital outpatient services provided in the hospital outpatient setting. In this case the lab test would be billed on a 14X claim and the other hospital outpatient services would be billed on a 13X claim.

In addition to the operational and compliance concerns that have been created under this new guidance, another issue surfaced. A former student, Melinda McCaslin of Solders + Sailors Hospital in Wellsboro, Pa., raised the question regarding the rural sole community add-on payment that certain hospitals receive when lab is billed on TOB 131. If the hospital must bill their “lab only” or “unrelated lab” on TOB 141, the add-on payment may not be triggered which could be a significant reduction in revenue depending on outpatient lab volumes. Although CMS stated in the OPPS final rule that the application of the rural adjustment for rural sole community hospitals would remain the same and that some APCs had been recalibrated to accommodate this change, it would appear that billing certain outpatient lab under TOB 141 would prevent the add-on payment from being generated as this bill type is only paid under the CLFS. McCaslin later confirmed that their hospital was not receiving their additional payment in these types of situations.

I inquired with CMS in regards to what appeared to be a lack of payment for the rural sole community adjustment for lab. After several emails back and forth, it was alluded that there may be a change in this OPPS policy in the near future. The CMS representative indicated that the use of a modifier on TOB 131 may replace the requirement to report outpatient lab on TOB 141. Shortly after the response I received from CMS, a letter was posted to the National Uniform Billing Committee (NUBC) website that indicated this change may be forthcoming.

I found several of the NUBC’s statements in the January 21 letter to CMS worthy of noting:
  • “…writing on behalf of the members of the National Uniform Billing Committee (NUBC) to express our concern about a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) action that alters the official definition and purpose of an NUBC data element (as indicated in the Official UB-04 Data Specifications Manual (UB-04 Data Set)).“
  • “Unless the situation is corrected, the NUBC plans on filing a HIPAA complaint with CMS OESS for failure to adhere to the HIPAA standards.”
  • “Even if CMS had done so, the rule making process is not applicable to an external code list that is not within the purview of CMS to arbitrarily change. The NUBC has a change request process that CMS, in this instance, did not follow.”

CMS provided a written response to the NUBC February 18 and indicated that it has requested a modifier to be created for “lab only” and “unrelated lab” situations and that hospitals would be directed to return to billing under TOB 131 once the modifier was approved. This modifier would be retroactive to January 1, 2014, dates of service; however, CMS indicated in its letter to the NUBC that billing instructions to hospitals would probably not be published until the July quarterly OPPS update transmittal.

Hospitals should continue to bill using TOB 141 until CMS provides further instruction. At this time, it is unknown if hospitals will need to rebill certain TOB 141 claims using the new modifier or if the MACs will reprocess these claims for them. Based on the issues discussed above, it is my best guess that providers will be responsible to rebill claims because MACs will not be able to identify which labs are truly non-patient services appropriately billed on TOB 141 and those that are truly outpatient labs that had previously been billed on TOB 131. Stay tuned!

CMS issues recurring update notification highlighting important CY2013 OPPS changes

Editor’s note: Judith Kares, JD, CPC, regulatory specialist for HCPro, Inc., is the author of this week’s note from the instructor.

CMS issues recurring update notification highlighting important CY2013 OPPS changes

On Friday, CMS released its annual recurring update notification reflecting the claims processing-related changes implemented in the CY 2013 OPPS final rule. Hospitals and CAHs are encouraged to review the transmittal more thoroughly to assure that they are prepared to implement these changes for services provided on and after January 1, 2013.

Hospitals and CAHs are also encouraged to be on the lookout for a similar transmittal (which has not yet been released) designed to reflect benefit-related changes included in the CY 2013 OPPS final rule. CMS also noted that the January 2013 integrated outpatient code editor (I/OCE) and OPPS pricer will reflect the healthcare common procedure coding system (HCPCS), ambulatory payment classification (APC), HCPCS modifier, and revenue code additions, changes, and deletions identified in this transmittal.

Highlights

CMS identified the following key changes for CY 2013:

  • Changes to device, radiolabeled product and procedure edits for January 2013. The most current list of device edits can be found at http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HospitalOutpatientPPS/ .Failure to pass these edits will result in the claim being returned to the provider.
  • Intracoronary stent placement procedure codes. The deletion of two CPT codes (92980 and 92981) that describe the placement of non-drug-eluting intracoronary stents and two existing HCPCS G-codes that describe the placement of drug-eluting intracoronary stents, along with the creation of nine new HCPCS C-codes in order to maintain the existing OPPS policy of differentiating payment for intracoronary stent placement procedures involving non-drug‑eluting and drug-eluting stents for CY 2013.
  • Outpatient payment for composite APC 8000. Modification of the intracardiac catheter ablation codes that may qualify a cardiac electrophysiologic evaluation and ablation service for composite payment under composite APC 8000 for services provided on and after 1/1/13. CMS’ action follows the AMA CPT editorial panel’s deletion of CPT codes 93651 and 93652 (intracardiac catheter ablation codes), effective 1/1/2013 and creation of new CPT codes 93653, 93654, and 93656, effective 1/1/2013.
  • New ‘sometimes therapy’ services that may be paid as non-therapy services for hospital outpatients, Effective January 1, 2013 the addition of two HCPCS codes (G0456 and G0457) to the list of PT/SLP/OT “sometimes therapy” services that may be paid under certain circumstances to a facility under the OPPS. The limited set of sometimes therapy services are paid under the OPPS when they are not furnished as therapy, that is, when they are not furnished under a certified therapy plan of care.
  • Coding changes for partial hospitalization psychiatric (PHP) services. Following the AMA’s CPT editorial panel deletion of 28 psychiatric CPT codes, including those related to PHP services, and replacing them with 12 new CPT codes (effective for services provided on and after 1/1/13), CMS’ implementation of corresponding changes to the PHP code set that is used for billing and documenting PHP services.
  • Certain changes to drugs, biologicals, and radiopharmaceuticals:
    • Effective for services provided on and after 1/1/13, the creation of several new HCPCS codes to identify those drugs, etc. for which no specific code had previously been created. The new codes are set out in Table 1 of Attachment A to the transmittal;
    • Effective for services provided on and after 1/1/13, changes to the HCPCS/CPT or long descriptor, or both, of certain drugs, etc. These changes are set out in Table 2 of Attachment A to the transmittal. Hospitals are once again admonished to pay close attention to accurate billing for units of service consistent with the dosages contained in the long descriptors of the active CY 2013 HCPCS and CPT codes;
    • For CY 2013, payment for nonpass-through drugs, biologicals and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals is made at a single rate of ASP + 6%, which provides payment for both the acquisition and pharmacy overhead costs associated with the drug, biological or therapeutic radiopharmaceutical. In CY 2013, a single payment of ASP + 6% will also be made (providing payment for both associated acquisition and pharmacy overhead costs for these pass-through drugs, biologicals and radiopharmaceuticals);
    • Any changes in the payment rates effective for services provided on and after 1/1/13, based on sales price submissions from the third quarter of CY 2012, will be incorporated into the January 2013 release of the OPPS Pricer.
    • CY 2013 OPPS payment adjustment for certain cancer hospitals. CMS’ updating of thetarget payment to cost ratio (PCR)” for CY 2013, for purposes of the cancer hospital payment adjustment, to 0.91 for outpatient services furnished on or after January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning in CY 2012, CMS is to provide additional payments to each of the 11 cancer hospitals so that each cancer hospital’s final payment to cost ratio (PCR) for services provided in a given calendar year is equal to the weighted average PCR (which CMS refers to as the “target PCR”) for other hospitals paid under the OPPS.
    • Changes to OPPS pricer logic:
      • Rural sole community hospitals (SCHs) and essential access community hospitals (EACHs) will continue to receive a 7.1% payment increase for most services (excluding drugs, biologicals, items and services paid at charges reduced to cost, and items paid under the pass-through payment policy) in CY 2013;
      • New OPPS payment rates and copayment amounts will be effective January 1, 2013. All copayment amounts will be limited to a maximum of 40% of the APC payment rate. Copayment amounts for each individual service cannot exceed the CY 2013 inpatient deductible;
      • For hospital outlier payments under OPPS, there will be no change in the multiple threshold of 1.75, which will continue to apply for 2013;
      • In addition, for hospital outlier payments under the OPPS, there will be no change in the fixed-dollar threshold of $2,025, which will continue to apply for CY 2013. The estimated cost of a service must be greater than the APC payment amount plus $2,025 in order to qualify for outlier payments;
      • For outliers for community mental health centers (bill type 76x), there will be no change in the multiple threshold of 3.4, which will continue to apply for 2013;
      • Effective January 1, 2013, 3 devices are eligible for pass-through payment (pass-through payment generally equals charges reduced to cost, sometimes subject to an offset amount) in the OPPS Pricer logic. Category C1830 (Powered bone marrow biopsy needle), has an offset amount of $0, because CMS is not able to identify portions of the APC payment amounts for the related procedure that were associated with the cost of a predecessor device. Category C1840 (Lens, intraocular (implantable)) and C1886 (Catheter, extravascular tissue ablation, any modality (insertable)) have offset amounts included in the Pricer for CY 2013, because CMS was able to identify portions of the APC payment amounts for the related procedures that were associated with the cost of certain predecessor devices. Pass-through offset amounts are adjusted annually;
      • Effective January 1, 2013, there will be one diagnostic radiopharmaceutical receiving pass-through payment in the OPPS Pricer logic. For APCs containing nuclear medicine procedures, Pricer will reduce the amount of the pass-through diagnostic radiopharmaceutical payment by the wage-adjusted offset for the APC with the highest offset amount when the radiopharmaceutical with pass-through appears on a claim with a nuclear procedure. The offset will cease to apply when the diagnostic radiopharmaceutical expires from pass-through status. The offset amounts for diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals are the “policy-packaged” portions of the CY 2013 APC payments for nuclear medicine procedures and may be found on the CMS website;
      • Effective January 1, 2013, the OPPS Pricer will continue to apply a reduced update ratio of 0.980 to the payment and copayment for hospitals that fail to meet their hospital outpatient quality data reporting requirements or that fails to meet CMS validation edits. The reduced payment amount will be used to calculate outlier payments, if any;
      • Pricer will continue to update the payment rates for drugs, biologicals, therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals, and diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals with pass-through status when those payment rates are based on ASP, on a quarterly basis.

Again, hospitals and CAHs are encouraged to review this transmittal closely to assure that they are prepared to comply with these changes effective for applicable services provided on and after 1/1/13.


CMS publishes the 2013 OPPS and MPFS final rules

Right on cue, CMS released the 2013 OPPS Final Rule on November 1 and then followed up with the MPFS Final Rule. In a breaking news story, HCPro summarized the changes – the good, the bad and the ugly – that will impact hospitals across the country. I wanted to take this time to review several changes that will impact two high volume departments in the hospital outpatient setting – therapy services and laboratory.

Many laboratory departments have been struggling with the complexity and the number of CPT codes for molecular pathology – now at 115 codes in two different tiers – and how to implement the new codes, even though CMS had allowed hospitals to bill the “stacked codes” instead for 2012. That will all change with dates of service on January 1, 2013 when the stacked codes will be invalid and the CPT codes for the actual molecular pathology services will need to be reported and will be paid under the clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS).

In 2012 when these codes first came into play, CMS stated they were not valid of payment and hospitals should still report combinations of “regular” CPT codes for payment that described various steps to perform a specific test – referred to as stacking because different groups of codes are billed depending on the components of the actual test. CMS also clarified in a Hospital Open Door Forum call that hospitals should also report the new molecular pathology codes with the stacked codes so that CMS could use that information for setting rates for implementation in 2013.

Hospitals need to begin now to get ready to implement the new codes as this has the potential to be a major project. This includes updating chargemasters, order entry and charge tickets so there will not be a delay in billing and reimbursement. Physicians, laboratory staff and coders may want to review the AMA CPT Assistant May 2012 and June 2012 for guidance on how to select the appropriate code. Keep in mind that hospitals will be responsible for creating their own pricing based on their current methodology and the CLFS as there is not a one-to-one crosswalk from the current CPT codes over to the molecular pathology codes.

Another major change for hospitals will be reporting functional limitation indicators and outcomes for outpatient rehabilitation therapy. This information will be found in the MPFS Final Rule and not under OPPS because therapy services are paid under the MPFS.

The MCTRJCA, the same Act that implemented the therapy caps and manual medical review for hospital outpatient services from October through December 2012, also required a claims-based data collection process to help reform the Medicare payment system. Of concern to Congress and CMS is that between 1998–2008, Medicare expenditures for outpatient therapy services increased at a rate of 10.1% per year while the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving therapy services only increased by 2.9% per year. Beginning on page 221 of the display copy of the MPFS Final Rule, a thorough explanation is provided regarding what data CMS will be looking for under the five-year CMS project titled “Development of Outpatient Therapy Payment Alternatives” (DOTPA).

In summary, because current ICD-9 diagnosis codes cannot provide the data needed, specific G-codes will be used to identify what type of functional limitation is being reported and whether the report is on the current status, projected goal status or discharge status. Modifiers will also be used to indicate the severity/complexity of the functional limitation being tracked. The difference between the reported functional status at the start of therapy and projected goal status will represent any progress the therapist anticipates the beneficiary would make during the course of treatment. This reporting will apply to all therapy claims, including those for services above the therapy caps and those that include the -KX modifier.

Again, this will be a major undertaking to update the charge master, order entry systems and charge tickets with new G-codes for services that occur on January 1, 2013. Although this is not a change in the current reimbursement structure and hospitals will be given a six-month testing period to implement no later than July 1, 2013, therapists and billers, as well as other involved in coding and billing of therapy services should become familiar with the new data reporting requirement prior to January 1.

CMS Releases October OPPS Update

CMS released the October OPPS update this week with a smattering of unrelated, but important updates.  There were also two corrections to the claim manual in this update.

One of the manual corrections appears to be aimed at removing a barrier to payment for bariatric surgery in hospital outpatient departments.  Although CPT code 43770 (laparoscopic placement of adjustable gastric band), was removed from the inpatient only list effective January 1 of this year, there remained a notation in the claims processing manual that the procedure was only payable on a type of bill 11X, an inpatient type of bill.   CMS corrected this to indicate that the procedure is also payable on 13X, outpatient hospital, and 85X, critical access hospital outpatient, types of bills.

There is some confusion about when this change is effective.  The text of the transmittal, as well as the “Business Requirements” instructions to the MACs, indicate this change related to the type of bill is retroactively effective back to January 1, 2012 when the procedure was removed from the inpatient only list.  However, the transmittal has an effective date of October 1, 2012 and the actual manual section header also repeats this October 1, 2012 effective date.

On a related note, the IOCE indicates that code 43775 (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy) was added to the inpatient only list following its approval for coverage, retroactively effective April 1, 2012.

Also included in the update were codes for two new drugs approved for pass through payment, effective October 1, 2012.  The drugs are pertuzumab injection, 10mg (C9292) and glucarpidase injection, 10 units (C9293)

There was also one new HCPCS code added for October: G9157 (Short descriptor:  “Transesophageal Doppler mon”). This new code has a status indicator of “M” indicating it is not reportable by a hospital to a MAC.  Generally, codes with a status indicator “M” are codes that are not reportable because they represent professional services or there is an alternative code available for reporting the service.

Finally, CMS made updates to manual sections on Transitional Outpatient Payments (TOP) to certain rural and Sole Community Hospitals (SCH) to account for recent legislative activity extending these payments.  The additional payments were only extended to February 29, 2012 for SCHs and Essential Access Community Hospitals (EACH) with more than 100 beds.  However, for rural hospitals, as well as SCHs and EACHs with 100 or fewer beds the additional TOPs payments were extended through the end of this calendar year.

Lastly, on an unrelated note, I want to remind everyone that the comment period for comments to the CY2013 OPPS proposed rule, including CMS’ solicitation of comments on patient status issues, is open until September 4 at 5 p.m.  I encourage you all to comment.

Corrections to OPPS payment rates and OPPS and IPPS wage indices

Hospitals need to be aware of changes to OPPS payment rates and IPPS and OPPS wage indices that may impact their payments for OPPS and/or IPPS services during portions of CY 2011, CY 2012 and FY 2012.

In its July quarterly update to the OPPS, CMS reminded hospitals that it had published initial corrections to OPPS payment rates for CY 2012 in the Federal Register on January 4, and additional corrections to CY 2012 OPPS payment rates on April 24, 2012. These corrections, which are retroactive to dates of service on and after January 1, 2012, were fully incorporated into the July 1updates to Addenda A and B of the CY 2012 OPPS Final Rule. The updated addenda can be downloaded from the CMS website. Hospitals should check to see whether payments made for dates of service during the first half of CY 2012 were made in error, based upon these subsequent corrections. If so, CMS has informed hospitals that they must take the initiative and request adjustment of the previously improperly processed claims.

Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the MCTRJCA), Congress extended applicable reclassifications and revised wage indices for certain “Section 508” reclassified hospitals, as well as for certain non-section 508 and special exception hospitals.  For IPPS payments, the resulting revised wage indices are applicable to discharges on or after October 1, 2011 and on or before March 31, 2012. There is an exception, however, if the published FY 2012 wage index is higher for that hospital than the otherwise applicable revised wage index. In other words, hospitals are not to be harmed by application of these revised wage indices.

For OPPS payments, the revised wage indices for section 508 hospitals are applicable to services furnished on or after October 1, 2011 and on or before March 31, 2012, unless the published CY wage index for the last quarter of CY 2011 (October 1-December 31, 2011) and/or the first quarter of CY 2012 (January 1-March 31, 2012) for a specific hospital is higher for that hospital than the otherwise applicable revised wage index. Section 508 hospitals are not to be harmed by application of the revised wage indices. In other words, Section 508 hospitals will receive either the revised or published CY wage index, whichever is higher, for that period. In any event, section 508 hospitals will revert to the published CY 2012 wage indices for services furnished on and after April 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

For non-section 508 and special exception hospitals, the revised OPPS wage indices are applicable to services furnished on or after January 1, 2012 and on or before June 30, 2012, reverting to the published CY 2012 wage indices for services furnished on and after July 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

Hospitals should determine whether they are subject to these wage index revisions, and, if so, what the applicable wage indices are for the revision periods that apply to them in order to assure that their payments have been accurately calculated.

CMS posts questions and answers on three-day window

Slipping by somewhat unnoticed, CMS posted a set of Q&As on their Three-Day Window website a few weeks ago.  The questions focus on the more recent guidance for freestanding entities, such as physician offices and ASCs that are wholly-owned or wholly-operated by a hospital.  The questions also contain some information more broadly applicable to other service settings.

One interesting answer related to what is considered a diagnostic service.  In the hospital setting, this has always been defined by diagnostic revenue code and in some instance HCPCS code.  CMS had published a list of these revenue codes and HCPCS codes in Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 3 § 40.3.

This list has a couple of problems though.  First, the list has not been updated since the major change to the payment window in 2010.   This has resulted in the list containing outdated HCPCS codes that have been replaced by the CPT.  Second, defining diagnostic services by revenue code is not helpful in the physician environment because their claims are submitted on a CMS 1500 and do not use revenue codes.

The new Q&As state that the term diagnostic is defined more broadly as it is defined in the Benefit Policy Manual:  An examination or procedure to which the patient is subjected, or which is performed on materials derived from a hospital outpatient, to obtain information to aid in the assessment of a medical condition or the identification of a disease.  This means providers need to evaluate services beyond the traditional diagnostic laboratory and x-ray services, to determine if they would be considered diagnostic and therefore subject to bundling under the rule.  This would include surgical procedures that could be considered diagnostic in nature, similar to the list of HCPCS codes CMS currently lists in § 40.3.

There is also a helpful Q&A related to critical access hospitals (CAHs) and the payment window.  They make clear that it is true that if the admitting hospital is a CAH, the payment window does not apply.  However, they also clarify that if the admitting hospital wholly owns or operates a CAH, the outpatient services at the CAH are subject to bundling under the payment window.  This is helpful because many CAH providers are under the mistaken impression the payment window never applies to their services.

As to services provided at a freestanding entity, interestingly CMS states it is the hospital’s responsibility to determine which non-diagnostic services are related to an admission at the hospital and therefore subject to bundling.  Operationally, however, this responsibility is likely to fall on the physician’s office or ASC because, as they note in another answer, the decision will require knowledge of the specific clinical circumstances of the patient.

One thing the Q&As do well is make clear the exact portions of the freestanding practice’s claim that are subject to bundling.  They clarified that the technical portion of diagnostic services and the non-facility practice expense relative value units for related non-diagnostic services are paid through the IPPS under the payment window and must be bundled to the hospital claim.   As a result, it is easy to see that the practice would still be paid for the professional portion of diagnostic services and for non-diagnostic services, the facility rate which does not include practice office expense

In order to operationalize this, CMS adopted the -PD modifier (Diagnostic or related non-diagnostic item or service provided in a wholly owned or operated entity to a patient who is admitted as an inpatient within three days or one day).  CMS clarified that modifier -PD should be used by both wholly-owned and operated freestanding physician practices and ASCs as appropriate, but should not be used for services performed in the hospital (i.e. at provider-based clinics and outpatient departments).  Hospitals and freestanding entities were to have coordinated billing practices in place to ensure the proper application of the -PD modifier by July 1, 2012.

Codes with the -PD modifier pay at the professional rate for those codes with a -26/-TC split, however the Q&As specify that the -26 professional-services-only modifier should also be appended to these codes.  Codes that do not have a -26/-TC split reported with the -PD modifier will pay at the facility rate to ensure the non-facility practice office expense is not paid to the freestanding entity.

CMS also makes note of the fact that because the practice office expenses (the direct costs of clinic staff, equipment and supplies) of non-diagnostic related services are paid through the IPPS payment, the costs should be billed on the claim for the inpatient stay and be included in the hospital’s cost report.  They do not indicate exactly how the hospital should operationalize this, but they do indicate that the freestanding entity may, but is not required to, adjust its charge for these related non-diagnostic services on its claim.

All in all the Q&As are worth a read, although there are no new significant changes contained in them.

Lastly, I’d like to take the opportunity to encourage you to comment on CMS’ request for comments related to patient status.  I am currently working on an article on the proposals and request for comments for HCPro’s Revenue Cycle Institute which should come out later this week.  The details are in the section titled “XI.  Outpatient Status: Solicitation of Public Comments” beginning on page 95-97 of the OPPS Proposed Rule.   It is a short read and I believe almost every provider has strong opinions on this issue which they now have the opportunity to express to CMS by submitting comments by September 4 either by mail or through this website:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=CMS-2012-0084-0001

Impact of proposed geometric mean cost data for APC relative weight calculations

Last week we announced that the CY 2013 OPPS Proposed Rule had been published by CMS in a display copy and highlighted some of the key proposals. This week I wanted to go into more detail on the proposed change, from calculating APC relative weights using median cost data to using geometric mean cost data.

CMS has given several reasons why this shift has been proposed, including bringing OPPS more in line with the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS), which uses mean costs to determine the relative payment weights associated with each of the payment classification groups. CMS stated that the proposal to base the APC relative payment weights on the geometric mean costs rather than the median costs of services within an APC “would not significantly impact most providers”. Payments to low volume urban hospitals and to hospitals for which disproportionate share hospital (DSH) data are not available would increase by an estimated 2.1% and 4.0%, respectively. In contrast, payments to CMHCs would decrease by an estimated 6.9% due primarily to lower payments for APC 0173.

Using the CMS 2013 OPPS NPRM Geometric Mean-Median Based Payment Compare File, here is a comparison of what CMS would pay in 2012 vs. 2013 for the same service.

Patient presents to the Emergency Department for lower leg pain after a fall. The physician ordered an infusion, an IV push, and x-ray of the lower leg. The E/M level was assigned to a level four and the physician performed a closed treatment of a tibial shaft fracture. Keep in mind that specific drugs that may be separately payable are not included in the example below, as well as any packaged items or supplies.

2012

July Add B Payment

2013

Median

Costs Payment

2013

Geometric Mean Costs Payment

99284

219.00

227.07

229.08

96365

126.76

141.99

146.11

96374

34.85

36.92

39.10

73590

44.84

45.13

46.10

27750

105.19

110.05

132.99

 

This simple scenario demonstrates that payments in 2013 may increase overall – more so using the Geometric Mean data – which is good news for providers. Unfortunately, this will not be true across the board. The following is an example of a more complex fracture, most likely requiring the use of the operating room for the closed treatment of a tibia fracture with manipulation and with or without skeletal traction.

2012

July Add B Payment

2013

Median

Costs Payment

2013

Geometric Mean Costs Payment

27752

1341.55

1305.70

895.29

CMS has used the median cost data for payment calculations since we began APCs in 2000. This change could potentially have a far reaching and as yet unknown impact into future reimbursements. At a minimum, hospitals should review the impact of this proposed payment methodology change for their high volume and/or high cost outpatient services and provide comments to CMS.

Correction: In last week’s note I stated that CMS is proposing to maintain the current payment rate that covers the acquisition and pharmacy overhead costs of separately payable drugs and biologicals without pass-through status at average sales price (ASP) plus 6.0%.  Upon further review, I realized this is actually an increase of 2% over the current ASP plus 4%. I apologize for that misstatement.

CMS announces CY 2013 OPPS proposed rule

On Friday July 6, CMS was very busy releasing multiple proposed rules, one of which is the highly anticipated Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) proposed rule for calendar year 2013.

Each year in July, hospitals receive the news on what changes may be imposed that will update payment policies and payment rates for services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries in hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) beginning Jan. 1, 2013. This year’s proposed rule has something for just about everyone.

I want to take a few minutes to point out some of the highlights and next week I will dissect specific areas of the proposed rule in more detail.

  • Payment rate increase – CMS is proposing to increase OPPS payment rates by 2.1% which includes 3.0 % market basket increase minus 0.9% statutory reductions. There will be a continuation of the current policy to reduce payments by 2.0 percentage points for hospitals failing to meet the hospital outpatient quality reporting (OQR) requirements. With these updates, CMS is projecting that the total payments under OPPS will be approximately $48.1 billion.
  • Change in payment methodology – CMS is proposing to use the geometric mean costs of services within an APC to determine the relative payment weights of services rather than the current median costs. According to CMS, geometric mean costs better reflect average costs of services than the median and would be consistent with what is used in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS).  CMS’ analysis indicates that this change would have a limited payment impact on most providers with a small number experiencing payment gains or losses based on their service-mix.
  • Payment for drugs – CMS is proposing to maintain the current payment rate that covers the acquisition and pharmacy overhead costs of separately payable drugs and biologicals without pass-through status at average sales price (ASP) plus 6.0%.
  • Payment adjustments for non-HEU sources – CMS is proposing to make an additional payment to help cover the cost of radioisotopes produced from non-HEU (highly enriched uranium) sources. This is in an effort to reduce the reliance on reactors outside of the U.S. that produce HEU and promote the conversion of all medical isotope production to non-HEU sources.
  • Outpatient supervision – CMS is attempting to clarify language for PT/OT/ST services in hospitals and CAHs and is also proposing to extend the non-enforcement of supervision rules for CAHs and small rural hospitals for “one final year through CY 2013”.
  • Part A to Part B Rebilling Demonstration – The proposed rule provides an update on the demonstration—which is in effect through 2014—that allows hospitals to bill Medicare for all Part B services and be paid 90% of what would otherwise be allowable. CMS is soliciting comments on changes that could potentially provide more clarity regarding patient status for purposes of Medicare payment. CMS has stated they are concerned about the increase in the length of time patients are spending receiving observation services whereas providers continue to be concerned about the number of admissions that are denied because they are deemed not to be medically necessary.
  • Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) - CMS did not propose any new measures to those previously finalized for 2014 (23 measures) and 2015 (24 measures). However, CMS is proposing to defer data collection for one quality measure, OP-24 cardiac rehabilitation patient referral from an outpatient setting for one year and is confirming suspension of data collection for another, OP-19: Transition record with specified elements received by discharged ED patients. CMS is also proposing program procedures affecting measure retirement, measure suspension, measure retention, and administrative forms. The complete list of proposed measures can also be found in the Fact Sheet Appendix.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility – there are several proposals that would affect the IRF Quality Reporting Program such as implementing updates on a measure that will affect annual prospective payment amounts in FY 2014 and adopting policies regarding when notice-and-comment rulemaking will be used to update existing IRF QRP measures.
  • Quality Improvement Organizations – CMS is proposing several changes to the QIO program which will open the door for beneficiaries to use the QIO for complaint and dispute resolution including an improved electronic review process.

Another proposed rule that was released on Friday that providers may be interested in reviewing would update payment policies and rates for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). The biggest impact would be the proposed increase in payments to family physicians by approximately 7% and other practitioners providing primary care services between 3% and 5%. This payment increase is being proposed in part as a means to help primary care physicians improve quality of care and lower health care costs in the long run. Since 2002, providers have prepared for the significant reduction in MPFS payment rates under the sustainable growth rate (SGR) methodology and 2013 will be no different. Although, CMS is projecting a reduction of 27% and is required by law to include this reduction in these calculations, Congress will most likely act to avert the cuts just as they have done every year since 2003.

All providers, regardless of how they are reimbursed are encouraged to review and comment on the rule – the good, the bad and the ugly! You can view all 687 pages of the proposed rule here keeping in mind that comments can be submitted through September 4. The proposed rule will appear in the Federal Register on July 30 and the final rule with CMS’ responses to comments to be published by November 1. Hospitals and other providers will also want to review the numerous other proposed rules included below as some of the changes could have a significant impact on their operations.

 

July OPPS update: Self-administered drugs

Last week, Kimberly provided an overview of the many significant updates and clarifications that were released in two transmittals – Medicare Claims Processing Manual 2483 and Medicare Benefit Policy Manual 157.

This week I wanted to expound on the new section that was added for self-administered drugs (SADs). Although this is not necessarily a change in CMS policy, it is intended to help facilities more easily identify those drugs that may be considered to be “integral to” an outpatient procedure and function more as a supply where their payment is packaged into the payment for the procedure. Since 2002, providers have been relying on Program Memorandum A-02-129 for guidance regarding what SADs are packaged supplies to treatment and procedures and therefore, cannot be billed to the patient in the outpatient setting. As Kimberly mentioned last week, the new section appears to be limiting coverage to drugs that are an integral component of a procedure or are directly related to it.

Providers have struggled with this concept for years because how the drug is going to be billed (i.e. packaged under revenue code 0250 or billed to patient under revenue code 0637) may depend on where the patient is receiving the outpatient service.  A drug that is used in the emergency department for treatment may be considered an SAD where the same drug used for an outpatient surgery may be considered packaged into the procedure. Prior to this new section and as recently as an August 2011 Hospital Open Door Forum call, the CMS representative indicated that the list in A-02-129 is limited and the “overwhelming majority” of self-administered drugs are non-covered. At that time, the representative recommended comparing other items to the list to determine if they should be considered packaged supplies

If providers have been relying on that list for guidance, they now need to be aware that CMS has changed the language regarding specific items and has added this information to the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual.

  • Eye drops that are related to eye procedures may have been classified as an SAD because the drops were considered to be integral to the procedure (i.e. a provider would not perform the procedure without them) has now been clarified further and “excludes” those drops that patients may use preoperatively and postoperatively. Providers may need to reconsider how they have classified eye drops in the past as some of those may now be considered SADs.
  • Local anesthetics such as marcaine or lidocaine have been deleted as part of the packaged section; however, providers should not consider these types of drugs as now being separately billable to the patient when the injection is part of the procedure itself (i.e. you would not normally repair a laceration in the ER without an anesthetic). The fact that CMS has removed the language does not by itself make the drug an SAD.
  • A fentanyl patch or oral pain medication such as hydrocodone given to an outpatient presenting with pain has been added to the section where the drug is not directly related and integral to a procedure and would not be considered a packaged supply (i.e. these could be separately billed to the patient because this would be part of the treatment and not part of a procedure).
  • The other addition to the separately billable section is where a laxative suppository for constipation is given while the patient waits to receive an unrelated X-ray. Keep in mind that if a laxative suppository is needed to perform x-ray, then it may be considered to part of the procedure itself and therefore packaged.

According to CMS, these examples may serve to guide hospitals in deciding which drugs are packaged supplies and may be billed under Part B by reporting coded and uncoded drugs with their charges under the revenue code associated with the cost center under which the hospital accumulates the costs for the drugs (i.e. revenue codes 0250, 0259 or 0636).  Although the new manual language may not seem to do much to clarify the CMS policy, it does provide an opportunity for hospitals to revisit this billing quandary to ensure compliance overall.

July 2012 quarterly update contains multiple significant updates and clarifications

There were a number of interesting items in the July 2012 Update to the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System. The Claims Processing Manual transmittal had several new and replacement codes that hospitals should take note of and make appropriate chargemaster changes. The quarterly update also included a Benefit Policy Manual transmittal with three clarifications, including a new section on packaged self-administered drugs.

There were seven new Category III CPT codes adopted for July 2012, including new codes related to intracardiac ischemia monitoring systems (0302T-0307T) and a replacement code for insertion of ocular telescopic prosthesis (0308T), which should be used to replace deleted code C9732 effective July 1, 2012.  Also effective July 1, 2012, the pass-through code C1840 formerly billed with deleted code C9732 must be billed with new code 0308T to receive pass through payment.

There were also two new biologicals approved for pass through payment effective July 1: C9368 (Grafix Core, per square centimeter) and C9369 (Grafix Prime, per square centimeter).  CMS also adopt six new drug codes, three of which are replacement codes for existing drug codes that will no longer be billable effective July 1, 2012.

Human fibrinogen concentrate will now be billed with new code Q2045 in 1 mg units rather than J1680 which was billed in 100 mg units.  Similarly, aflibercept will be billed with new code Q2046 in 1 mg units rather than C9291 which was formerly used for a 2mg vial. Providers should take care to ensure that they properly adjust the units billed in addition to replacing the code in the chargemaster in order to avoid underpayments.

Code Q2048 (Injection, doxorubicin hydrochloride, liposomal, doxil, 10mg) is being created to replace J9001(Injection, doxorubicin hydrochloride, all lipid formulation, 10mg) and an additional code Q2049 is being adopted for doxorubicin hydrochloride, liposomal, imported lipodox, 10mg. In addition to new and replacement codes, CMS is changing the status indicator to payable for eight drugs and biological effective retrospectively to April 1, 2012.

CMS is also publishing new payment Addenda related to a correction notice published April 24th. The July Addendum A and B will contain corrected payment rates that are retroactive to January 1, 2012. Providers must request reprocessing if they believe they have been underpaid due to a change in the payment rates.

The Claims Processing Manual transmittal also had a policy clarification related to inpatient-only procedures. A statement was added to the manual to clarify that removal from the inpatient-only list does not mean the procedure must be provided on an outpatient basis. The clarification specifically emphasizes that procedures removed from the list are still payable on an inpatient basis.

The Benefit Policy Manual had two clarifications related to coverage and supervision and an additional important addition related to self-administered drugs. CMS updated the section on coverage of hospital outpatient services to specifically exclude physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech language pathology. This is in line with commentary in the OPPS final rule for 2012 that indicated these services were exempt from these requirements, including the supervision requirements, because they were not paid under the OPPS.  Additionally, CMS published the notice regarding services that only require general supervision as discussed in this blog on June 5.

Lastly, CMS has finally manualized language from Program Memorandum A-02-129 that discussed coverage of self-administered drugs when they are packaged supplies to a procedure. The original language in A-02-129 specified that self-administered drugs were covered if they were integral to a treatment or procedure, but the new language added to the manual appears to be limiting this coverage to drugs integral to procedures only. Specifically they state that the policy applies to drugs that are “an integral component of a procedure or are directly related to it, i.e., when they facilitate the performance of or recovery from a particular procedure.”

Additionally, CMS changed the bullet point examples of what is included and excluded from this policy. They eliminated the bullet point mentioning local anesthetics on the list of items integral to procedures and added language to the bullet point on eye drops making clear it would not include “the patient’s eye drops” that they use pre and post-operatively.

They also added two examples to the list of items not covered by this exception: pain medication for an outpatient presenting with pain and laxatives for constipation.  These examples appear to be aimed at explaining new language indicating that if the drug itself is the treatment it is not considered a packaged supply and therefore is not covered. This is also in line with their removal of “treatment” from the section discussing integral drugs that are covered, mentioned above.

Providers should take note of this new section on packaged self-administered drugs because it may affect their current policies on drugs they consider integral to procedures. As discussed, there are subtle but important changes to the language from the original program memorandum published in 2002.