Press Release: Medicare Telehealth Services

On December 1st there was an announcement made regarding Medicare Telehealth services. The Trump Administration finalized the permanent expansion of Medicare Telehealth services and improved payment for the time doctors spend with patients. Continue reading below to learn more. nnOn December 1st, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the annual Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule, prioritizing CMS’ investment in primary care and chronic disease management by increasing payments to physicians and other practitioners for the additional time they spend with patients, especially those with chronic conditions. The rule allows non-physician practitioners to provide the care they were trained and licensed to give, cutting red tape so healthcare professionals can practice at the top of their license and spend more time with patients instead of on unnecessary paperwork. This final rule takes steps to further implement President Trump’s Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors including prioritizing the expansion of proven alternatives like telehealth.nn“During the COVID-19 pandemic, actions by the Trump Administration have unleashed an explosion in telehealth innovation, and we’re now moving to make many of these changes permanent,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Medicare beneficiaries will now be able to receive dozens of new services via telehealth, and we’ll keep exploring ways to deliver Americans access to healthcare in the setting that they and their doctor decide makes sense for them.”nn“Telehealth has long been a priority for the Trump Administration, which is why we started paying for short virtual visits in rural areas long before the pandemic struck,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “But the pandemic accentuated just how transformative it could be, and several months in, it’s clear that the healthcare system has adapted seamlessly to a historic telehealth expansion that inaugurates a new era in healthcare delivery.”nnFinalizing Telehealth Expansion and Improving Rural HealthnnBefore the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), only 15,000 fee-for-service beneficiaries each week received a Medicare telemedicine service. Since the beginning of the PHE, CMS has added 144 telehealth services such as emergency department visits, initial inpatient and nursing facility visits, and discharge day management services, that are covered by Medicare through the end of the PHE. These services were added to allow for safe access to important health care services during the PHE. As a result, preliminary data show that between mid-March and mid-October 2020, over 24.5 million out of 63 million beneficiaries and enrollees have received a Medicare telemedicine service during the PHE.nnThis final rule delivers on the President’s recent Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access by adding more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list that will continue to be covered beyond the end of the PHE, and we will continue to gather more data and evaluate whether more services should be added in the future. These additions allow beneficiaries in rural areas who are in a medical facility (like a nursing home) to continue to have access to telehealth services such as certain types of emergency department visits, therapy services, and critical care services. Medicare does not have the statutory authority to pay for telehealth to beneficiaries outside of rural areas or, with certain exceptions, allow beneficiaries to receive telehealth in their home. However, this is an important step, and as a result, Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas will have more convenient access to healthcare.nnAdditionally, CMS is announcing a commissioned study of its telehealth flexibilities provided during the COVID-19 PHE. The study will explore new opportunities for services where telehealth and virtual care supervision, and remote monitoring can be used to more efficiently bring care to patients and to enhance program integrity, whether they are being treated in the hospital or at home.nnPayment for Office/Outpatient Evaluation and Management (E/M) and Comparable VisitsnnLast year, CMS finalized a historic increase in payment rates for office/outpatient face-to-face evaluation and management (E/M) visits that goes into effect in 2021. The Medicare population is increasing, with over 10,000 beneficiaries joining the program every day. Along with this growth in enrollment is increasing complexity of beneficiary healthcare needs, with more than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries having two or more chronic conditions. Increasing the payment rate of E/M office visits recognizes this demand and ensures clinicians are paid appropriately for the time they spend on coordinating care for patients, especially those with chronic conditions. These payment increases, informed by recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA), support clinicians who provide crucial care for patients with dementia or manage transitions between the hospital, nursing facilities, and home.nnUnder today’s final rule, CMS continues to prioritize this investment in primary care and chronic disease management by similarly increasing the value of many services that are similar to E/M office visits such as maternity care bundles, emergency department visits, end-stage renal disease capitated payment bundles, and physical and occupational therapy evaluation services. These adjustments ensure CMS is appropriately recognizing the kind of care where clinicians need to spend more face-to-face time with patients.nn“This finalized policy marks the most significant updates to E/M codes in 30 years, reducing burden on doctors imposed by the coding system and rewarding time spent evaluating and managing their patients’ care,” Administrator Verma added. “In the past, the system has rewarded interventions and procedures over time spent with patients – time taken preventing disease and managing chronic illnesses.”nnIn addition to the increase in payment for E/M office visits, simplified coding and documentation changes for Medicare billing for these visits will go into effect beginning January 1, 2021. The changes modernize documentation and coding guidelines developed in the 1990s, and come after extensive stakeholder collaboration with the AMA and others. These changes will significantly reduce the burden of documentation for all clinicians, giving them greater discretion to choose the visit level based on either guidelines for medical decision-making (the process by which a clinician formulates a course of treatment based on a patient’s information, i.e., through performing a physical exam, reviewing history, conducting tests, etc.) or time dedicated with patients. These changes are expected to save clinicians 2.3 million hours per year in administrative burden so that clinicians can spend more time with their patients.nnProfessional Scope of Practice and SupervisionnnAs part of the Patients Over Paperwork Initiative, the Trump Administration is cutting red tape so that healthcare professionals can practice at the top of their license and spend more time with patients instead of on unnecessary paperwork. The PFS final rule makes permanent several workforce flexibilities provided during the COVID-19 PHE that allow non-physician practitioners to provide the care they were trained and licensed to give, without imposing additional restrictions by the Medicare program.nnSpecifically, CMS is finalizing the following changes:nnCertain non-physician practitioners such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants can supervise the performance of diagnostic tests within their scope of practice and state law, as they maintain required statutory relationships with supervising or collaborating physicians.nPhysical and occupational therapists will be able to delegate “maintenance therapy” – the ongoing care after a therapy program is established – to a therapy assistant.nPhysical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and other clinicians who directly bill Medicare can review and verify, rather than re-document, information already entered by other members of the clinical team into a patient’s medical record. As a result, practitioners have the flexibility to delegate certain types of care, reduce duplicative documentation, and supervise certain services they could not before, increasing access to care for Medicare beneficiaries.nFor a fact sheet on the CY 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Final rule, please visit click here.nnFor a fact sheet Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, please click here.nn2021 Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program final rule, please click here.nnOriginal article published on cms.gov

Medicare Payment for COVID-19 Vaccines

Medicare Payment for COVID-19 VaccinesMedicare payment for COVID-19 vaccines is underway and CMS is currently working to make sure the vaccine is available to all Medicare beneficiaries. Continue reading below to learn more.nnQ: How much will Medicare pay for FDA-approved or emergency use authorized COVID-19 vaccines?nnA: CMS will pay $28.39 to administer a single dose vaccine.nnFor vaccines requiring two or more doses, the agency will pay $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the last dose, according to the CMS toolkit.nnCMS said it hopes to enroll new Medicare providers, including pharmacies and other “mass immunizers” to help bring the vaccine to all Medicare beneficiaries.nnFor more information, see “Note from the instructor: Good news regarding COVID-19 vaccines and treatments,” by Valerie A. Rinkle, MPA, CHRI.nnRevenue Cycle Advisor combines all of HCPro’s Medicare regulatory and reimbursement resources into one handy and easy-to-access portal. News is not just repeated from other sources. It is analyzed by our Medicare experts so professionals can comprehend any new rule and regulatory updates thoroughly.nnComplete and original article published on healthleadersmedia.com

Stress in the Era of Covid

nnStress in the era of covid may be unavoidable. It is important to be able to recognize the different symptoms and the potential health problems that can arise if stress levels are left unmanaged. Continue reading below to learn about the symptoms of stress and different ways to mitigate it.nnIn this time of Covid, many of us are experiencing remote work and a different kind of celebration fornthe holidays., These challenges may trigger a particular biological stress response that causesnchemicals and hormones to surge throughout our bodies.nnSome of the most common physical symptoms are aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation,nnausea, dizziness, chest pain, rapid heart rate, loss of sex drive, and frequent colds or flu. Emotionalnsymptoms include depression, unhappiness, anxiety and agitation, moodiness, and irritability ornanger.nnBeing able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. Stress that is leftnunchecked can contribute to many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure,nobesity and diabetes.nnSo how can we relieve the stress and anxiety that we are all facing in our daily lives? Considernexercise, taking slow even deep breaths, and my favorite soak in a warm bath while listening tonsoothing music. Reducing your caffeine intake and writing down what has you most concerned cannalso reduce anxiety These are simple, easy steps that can brighten your outlook and help younimprove your health.nnDifferent people may feel stress in different ways. But remember, you are important, you matter, younare valued and most importantly, you are unique and special! We will survive Covid, and in thenprocess maybe learn how to improve our mental and physical health.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe Thanksgiving

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, all of us at Welter Healthcare Partners are reminded of what we are thankful for. We would like to wish all of our clients, business partners, families, and friends a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! We are grateful for each of you and appreciate your support immensely.nnIn observance of the holiday, we will be closed on Thursday, November 26nd to give our employees time to enjoy the day with their loved ones. From the Welter Healthcare Partners family to yours, have a great Thanksgiving!

Q&A: Physician Billing for Wound Care Services Via Telehealth

Q&A: Physician Billing for Wound Care Services Via TelehealthYou may have questions about billing procedures after administering care via telehealth. It is important to review all information specific to your own situation before deciding on a code assignment. Continue reading below to learn more about code assignments when using telehealth.nnQ: What place of service (POS) codes and modifiers should be reported on physician claims for wound care services performed via telehealth during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency (PHE)?nnA: POS codes are two-digit codes that delineate the location in which services were rendered by a provider.nnWhen billing for outpatient telehealth services during the COVID-19 PHE, providers should use the POS code that they would have otherwise used had the service been provided in person.nnThe following POS codes may be reported on physician and non-physician practitioner claims for wound care services:n

    n

  • 11 (physician office): The wound clinic is designated as part of the physician’s office.
  • n

  • 19 (outpatient hospital off campus): The wound clinic is hospital based but not on campus.
  • n

  • 22 (outpatient hospital on campus): The wound clinic is designated as hospital based.
  • n

  • Physicians billing under Medicare should use modifier -GT (via interactive audio and video telecommunication systems) to indicate that the services were rendered via synchronous telecommunication.
  • n

nEditor’s note: This question was answered by Gloria Miller, CPC, CPMA, CPPM, vice president of Revenue Cycle Management at Comprehensive Healthcare Solutions Inc. in Tacoma, Washington, during the HCPro webinar “Revitalize ICD-10-CM and CPT Coding for Wound Care.”nnThis answer was provided based on limited information. Be sure to review all documentation specific to your own individual scenario before determining appropriate code assignment.nn nnOriginal article published on revenuecycleadvisor.com

New Prolonged Service Code Set for Release 2021

New Prolonged Service Code Set for Release 2021 There is a new prolonged service code for office or other outpatient services set for release January 1st, 2021. Healthcare practices should prepare for increased payer audits after this new code is released. Continue reading below for more information.nnTo say that this is a long time coming is an understatement! Finally extended care time devoted to patients in the clinic setting can be separately reported. This new code, 99417, will account for increments of 15 minutes above and beyond the allowable time for codes 99205 (60-74 minutes) and 99215 (40-54 minutes). With the publication of the 2021 CPT code books already being distributed, they include a table with a break down of appropriate uses. But do not get your stopwatches out of the junk drawers just yet, clinician. With all the hype we are seeing around the new guidelines for Office E/M encounters, our payers are being eerily quiet and have yet to announce anything regarding reimbursement for this new code. As we have seen in the past, clinicians and practices should be prepared to see an increase in payer audits following this transition and you can bet that code 99417 will be analyzed thoroughly.