Tag Archives | CCI

E/M + Bronchoscopy + PFT: Unlock the Secrets to Signs and Symptoms Coding

Keep your CCI edits in mind for PFT bundles.

When a patient presents with common respiratory conditions, your pulmonologist should perform an extensive history and examination, and may order several diagnostic tests before he can settle with a definite diagnosis to report in the claim. Along with the primary diagnosis (if achieved), you should report the patient’s signs and symptoms or else risk an audit.

Consider this scenario: The pulmonologist sees a patient for fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, weight loss, and fatigue. After undergoing a detailed history and examination, the patient becomes suspect for hypersensitivity pneumonitis, otherwise known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis (495.x). The physician orders a diagnostic bronchoscopy with fluoroscopic guidance, as well as a spirometry to verify the patient’s condition. To justify each service performed by the same provider or group, you might be accumulating payer inquiries or denials. This 2-step technique should carry you through potentially puzzling spirometry-E/M coding situations.

1. Don’t Leave Out Signs and Symptoms On Your Claim

 First on your to-do list is to report the patient’s signs and symptoms. In this case, you would code 780.6 (Fever and other physiologic disturbances of temperature regulation), 786.05 (Shortness of breath), 786.50 (Unspecified chest pain), 783.21 (Loss of weight), and 780.79 (Other malaise and fatigue). Because these signs and symptoms resemble other respiratory problems, the physician performs a level four E/M and orders some diagnostic tests. Report the procedures with: 31622 (Bronchoscopy, rigid or flexible, including fluoroscopic guidance, when performed; diagnostic, with cell washing, when performed [separate procedure]) for the bronchoscopy with fluoroscopic guidance. Your physician is likely to perform this on a separate date. 94010 (Spirometry, including graphic record, total and timed vital capacity, expiratory flow rate measurement[s], with or without maximal voluntary ventilation) for the pulmonary function test (PFT); and 99214 (Office

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64704 Denials? 5 ways to Fix Your Neuroplasty Claims

If you’re just plodding though nerve surgery claims, you could be stepping over a great deal of well-earned reimbursement.  Coding and billing peripheral nerve surgeries for conditions such as tarsal tunnel and diabetic neuropathy can involve a frazzling number of codes.   Podiatry coders often struggle to navigate the various coding guidelines that payers use for these procedures.  Use these five tips to maximize payment for your podiatrist’s hard work on nerve surgeries:

Tip 1: Check CCI edits and your local Medicare guidelines

If you’re billing codes that the Correct Coding Initiative bundles together — and your documentation and diagnosis codes can’t justify breaking the bundle — you’re not going to see one extra cent for that bundled procedure code.

Example: A California Medicare patient injures his foot when he falls off a ladder and requires peripheral nerve surgery to correct the damage the injury caused.  The podiatrist performs the following:

28035 — Release, tarsal tunnel (posterior tibial nerve decompression)

64712 — Neuroplasty, major peripheral nerve, arm or leg, open; sciatic nerve

64704 — Neuroplasty; nerve of hand or foot

+64727 — Internal neurolysis, requiring use of operating microscope (List separately in addition to code for neuroplasty) (Neuroplasty includes external neurolysis)

64708 — Neuroplasty, major peripheral nerve, arm or leg, open; other than specified.

If you report all these codes, you’re bound to get a denial on 64704 — this is one of the codes the Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) bundles into 28035.  Unless you can justify billing 64704 separately (and if that’s the case, append modifier 59, Distinct procedural service, to the code), you shouldn’t list it all.

Unbundling is not automatic: Be aware that you can’t automatically override a CCI edit with modifier 59 just because documentation supports a separate site,…

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Phototherapy: 96900 or 96910? Check Out These FAQs to Narrow Down On Correct Option

If your dermatologist is treating vitiligo or dychromia patients with phototherapy, read your physician’s documentation carefully to determine what type of light, wavelength, and materials he used. These two frequently asked questions will help you combat both E/M and multi equipment correct coding initiative (CCI) situations.

Evaluate These Phototherapy + E/M Tips

If you’re charging for an office visit on the same day as phototherapy, your reimbursement may depend on whether your physician’s documentation warrants a different diagnosis code. Payers may reimburse at times if the doctor sees the patient for a different problem, thus with a different diagnosis code, experts say.

Example: If your physician performs 99212 (Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of an established patient … Physicians typically spend 10 minutes face-to-face with the patient and/or family) with phototherapy, you will bill it with modifier 25 (Significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management service by the same physician on the same day of the procedure or other service) on the E/M service. You can only consider reporting modifier 25 when coding an E/M service, Janet Palazzo, CPC, a coder in Cherry Hill, N.J., says. Remember your E/M documentation has to show medical necessity for the additional work.

If you reported the nurse visit code 99211 (Office or other outpatient visit for the evaluation and management of an established patient, that may not require the presence of a physician …), your payer would likely consider it bundled into the light treatment.

Ask 2 Questions to Choose Best Light Therapy Code

For patients with vitiligo (709.01), your dermatologist may use narrow band UVB phototherapy.

The dermatologist administers phototherapy two to three times per week for several months until the patient achieves repigmentation of the skin. For this procedure, you need to pinpoint what types the…

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Check CCI Edits For New Vaccine Administration Codes

Many of the new code pair additions involve CPT codes that debuted on Jan. 1, with CCI now halting payment if you report certain procedures together.

For instance, you’ll find vaccine administration codes 90471 (Immunization administration [includes percutaneous, intradermal, subcutaneous, or intramuscular injections]; 1 vaccine [single or combination vaccine/toxoid])and 90473 (Immunization administration by intranasal or oral route; 1 vaccine [single or combination vaccine/toxoid]) bundled into new vaccine administration code 90460 (Immunization administration through 18 years of age via any route of administration, with counseling by physician or other qualified health care professional; first vaccine/toxoid component), and no modifier can separate these edits. This edit prevents mixing and matching the new immunization administration codes with the old, established immunization administration codes when delivering multiple vaccines at the same visit.

In addition, CCI bundles the new subsequent observation care codes 99224-99226 into inpatient neonatal and pediatric critical care codes 99468-99476.

CCI Has Good News on the Modifier Front

Not all news coming out of the new edition of CCI is bad. Effective Jan. 1, you’ll be able to use a modifier (such as 59, Distinct procedural service) to separate the edit bundling wound care management codes 97597-97602 into the newly-revised debridement codes 11042-11044. In the past, if your pediatrician performed both procedures on the same date of service, you could not collect for both no matter what, but now you will be able to if your documentation demonstrates the separate and distinct nature of the services and you append the appropriate modifier.

Swapped pairs: In addition, CCI did an about-face on several edits this round. In the past, if you reported 94660 (Continuous positive airway pressure ventilation) or 94662 (Continuous negative pressure ventilation) with an outpatient E/M code (99201-99215), CCI would reimburse you for the pressure ventilation and deny

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96446 And Dozen Others Join The List of CCI Edits

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, new CPT codes and, inevitably, new Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) physician edits are there for physicians. For version 17.0, “19,822 new edit pairs have been added to the database while 9,778 have been terminated, for a net gain of 10,044 new edit pairs,” according to Frank Cohen, MPA, MBB, of the Frank Cohen Group, in his Dec. 14, 2010, “NCCI Version 17.0 Change Analysis” announcement.

The main edits you want to be sure to watch for are those related to new code 96446 (Chemotherapy administration to the peritoneal cavity via indwelling port or catheter).

The 96446 non-mutually exclusive (NME) edits are largely what you would expect based on other chemotherapy code edits — bundles with E/M, anesthesia, venipuncture and other vascular procedures, for example. You want to be sure to watch which is the column 1 code and which is the column 2 code for these bundles.

CCI places E/M codes 99217-99239 in the column 1 position and 96446 in the column 2 position. On the other hand, CCI places 96446 in the column 1 position and E/M codes 99201-99215 in the column 2 position, as shown below:

Column 1 Column 2
99217-99239 96446
96446 99201-99215

Remember that if you report both codes in an NME edit pair without a modifier, Medicare (and payers who adopt these edits) will deny the column 2 code and pay you only for the column 1 code. The edits in the table above all have a modifier indicator of 1, meaning that you may override the edits with a modifier when appropriate, such as in the case of distinct,…

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2011 Medical Coding Updates Are Available on Supercoder.com

Raise your glass to the new year without worries of 2011 medical code changes. SuperCoder’s got you covered with new CPT codes, CCI edits, and supply coding revisions.
Starting Dec. 31, SuperCoder.com will offer the complete codesets for CPT 2011…

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No Correct Coding Initiative Bundle? Find Modifier Details in MPFS.

Question: Sometimes I cannot find my two-code pair in the CCI edits. How do I know which code would be considered a column 1 code and which would be considered a column 2 code, so that I could put my modifier on the correct code?

Answer: If the codes are not listed, the codes are not bundled per the Correct Coding Initiative (CCI). You would not need a CCI modifier, such as 25 (Significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management service by the same physician on  the same day of the procedure or other service), 57 (Decision for surgery), or 59 (Distinct procedural service), to override the edit when appropriate.

A private payer could have a black box edit. You would need to check with a rep for a recommendation.

Watch out: Just because a code does not have a bundle in CCI does not mean a modifier is out of the picture. While you won’t need a CCI modifier to override the edit, you might need apayment modifier.

You can find Medicare’s other allowed modifiers for any given CPT code in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). Columns Y-AC indicate if modifier 51 (Multiple procedure), 50 (Bilateral procedure), etc. apply.

To determine which code receives modifier 51, you need to know the code’s relative value units, which are also listed in the MPFS. Private payers may not adjust claim items in descending order as Medicare’s Outpatient Code Editor software does. If you append modifier 51 to a higher valued item, the private payer may apply the adjustment based on your coding, costing you payment. You should instead list the items in descending relative value order from highest to lowest. Append modifier 51 to the lower priced procedure as necessary. The insurer will then apply the typical 50 percent,…

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Coding Coding Initiative 16.3 Includes Ultrasound in 0228T, 0230T

Only report primary procedure – except for 99455 edits.

The latest version of the National Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) edits went into effect October 1, and introduced a slew of pairings involving two new Category III “T” codes for transforaminal epidural injections:

  • 0228T – Injection(s), anesthetic agent and/or steroid, transforaminal epidural, with ultrasound guidance, cervical or thoracic; single level
  • 0230T – Injection(s), anesthetic agent and/or steroid, transforaminal epidural, with ultrasound guidance, lumbar or sacral; single level.

Explanation: “The new Category III codes 0228T-0231T have added the addition of ultrasound guidance to transforaminal epidural injections,” says Susan Vogelberger, CPC, CPC-H, CPC-I, CMBS, CCP-P, CEO of Healthcare Consulting and Coding Education in Boardman, Ohio. “That will eliminate the need to code the ultrasound independently.” The existing, Category I codes for transforaminal epidural injections of anesthetic and/or steroids (64479-64484) include only the injection itself.

Even Simple Procedures Rule With NME Edits

CCI classifies the bulk of edits involving 0228T and 0230T as non-mutually exclusive.

No breakage: The rationale behind the new bundling edits falls to “standards of medical/surgical practice.” Most edits carry a modifier indicator of “0,” which means you cannot break the edit with a modifier and report both codes during a single encounter.

Examples of common procedures that override the accompanying 0228T or 0230T codes include:

  • Incision and drainage (such as 10060, Incision and drainage of abscess (e.g., carbuncle, suppurative hidradenitis, cutaneous or subcutaneous abscess, cyst, furuncle, or paronychia); simple or single)
  • Foreign body removal (such as 10120, Incision and removal of foreign body, subcutaneous tissues; simple) Lesion paring (such as 11055, Paring or cutting of benign hyperkeratonic lesion (e.g., corn or callus); single lesion)
  • Skin tag removal (beginning with 11200, Removal of skin tags, multiple fibrocutaneous tags, any area; up to and including 15 lesions)
  • Lesion shaving (including 11300,

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ICD-9, CCI 16.3, Oct MPFS Coding Updates in SuperCoder.com

You can sit back and enjoy the fall foliage spectacle — SuperCoder.com’s got your ICD-9-CM 2011, National Correct Coding Initiative 16.3, and October Medicare Physician Fee Schedule medical coding updates covered.
Go ahead and search for th…

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92541 + 92544 Will Soon Be OK

AMA corrects vestibular test codes to allow partial reporting.

The Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) came down hard on practitioners who perform vestibular testing earlier this year, but a new correction, effective Oct. 1, should ease the restrictions and help the otolaryngology, neurology, and audiology practices that report these services.

The problem: CCI edits currently restrict practices from reporting 92541, 92542, 92544, and 92545 individually if three or less of the tests are performed, notes Debbie Abel, Au.D., director of reimbursement and practice compliance with the American Academy of Audiology.

The solution: Starting October 1, 2010, “if two or three of these codes are reported for the same date of service by the same provider for the same beneficiary, an NCCI-associated modifier may be utilized to bypass the NCCI edits,” CMS wrote in a decision to alter the edits.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has requested “clarification regarding the correct NCCI-modifier to use when reporting the codes to Medicare,” noted Lemmietta G. McNeilly, PhD, CCC-SLP, CAE, chief staff officer of Speech-Language Pathology with ASHA, in a July 29 announcement.

Look for Changes to Vestibular Testing Descriptors

The root of the CCI problem began when the 2010 CPT manual was published, including new code 92540 (Basic vestibular evaluation …) and the subsequent codes following it, which make up the individual components of 92540. “The clarification that resulted in the NCCI edits being lifted should be included in upcoming versions of the manual,” Abel tells Part B Insider.

According to the AMA’s Errata page, code descriptors should read as follows, effective Oct. 1:

  • 92540 — Basic vestibular evaluation, includes spontaneous nystagmus test with eccentric gaze fixation nystagmus, with recording, positional nystagmus test, minimum of 4 positions, with recording, optokinetic nystagmus test, bidirectional foveal and peripheral stimulation, with recording, and

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Ob-gyn Coding: Clue In To These CCI Edits Before You Choose 0193T

Overlooking these new Interstim and hemorrhoid destruction bundles could mean denial headaches.

Don’t let CCI version 16.1’s lack of ob-gyn mutually exclusive edits lull you into a false sense of security. Here’s what you need to know to prevent a denial from landing on your desk.

Payers like Noridian Part B will cover the female stress urinary incontinence treatment code 0193T, but before you submit a 0193T claim, you’ll have to check with the Correct Coding Iniative (CCI) version 16.1’s edits. For instance, as of April 1, the work represented by 0193T will include that of cystourethroscopy codes 52000-52001 and 52281.

1. Look For 0193T in Both the Column 1, Column 2 Position

In 2009, CPT added 0193T (Transurethral, radiofrequency micro-remodeling of the female bladder neck and proximal urethra for stress urinary incontinence) to your possible stress urinary incontinence (SUI) treatment coding options. This code includes the Renessa transurethral collagen radiofrequency denaturation procedure. Ob-gyns typically perform this nonsurgical, minimally invasive alternative for women who have failed other nonsurgical treatments or who aren’t good candidates for surgery.

What happens: The ob-gyn uses controlled heat at low temperatures and targets tissue in the woman’s lower urinary tract. The heat changes the structure of the patient’s natural tissue collagen. This helps the firmness of tissue and improves her continence. Although the ob-gyn may use heat on multiple sites and document multiple cycles, you should report 0193T once to represent all the treatment cycles performed during an encounter.

As of April 1, 0193T will include the work represented by 52000-52001 (Cystourethroscopy …) and 52281 (Cystourethroscopy, with calibration and/or dilation of urethral stricture or stenosis, with or without meatotomy, with or without injection procedure for cystography, male or female).

Reaction: “These edits don’t surprise me at all because 0193T says ‘transurethral’ which implies the…

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NCCI Edits: Watch Out For These Endoscopy Bundles

Code 31575 includes 92511 and 31231 except under these conditions.

Singling out the correct endoscopy code when your otolaryngologist examines multiple areas in the sinuses and throat isn’t always easy, but in most cases it’s imperative to settle on one, according to National Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) edits. You can adhere to these edits and avoid payback requests if you stick to these guidelines.

3 Rules Guide the Way

Rule #1: Never report 92511 (Nasopharyngoscopy with endoscope[separate procedure]) and 31231 (Nasal endoscopy, diagnostic, unilateral or bilateral [separate procedure]) together, says Stephen R. Levinson, MD, otolaryngologist and coding consultant based in Easton, Conn. Code 92511 is a component of Column 1 code 31231. The bundle has a modifier indicator of “0” — thus, no modifier can break this bundle.

Rule #2: Code 92511 is a component of Column 1 code 31575 (Laryngoscopy, flexible fiberoptic; diagnostic) but a modifier is allowed in order to differentiate between the services provided (that is, you may append modifier 59 [Distinct procedural services] if there are separate and identifiable services with separate medical indications). Report 92511 in conjunction with 31575 for the same encounter, says Levinson, only if the following conditions are met:

  • there are separate medical indications for examining each area (for instance, 784.49 for hoarseness with 31575 in an adult patient with a hyperactive gag reflex and 381.4 for a unilateral or bilateral middle ear effusion with 92511, which would be a rare occurrence), and
  • the ENT uses a different scope for each, separate procedure because there is a documented reason that the fiberoptic scope did not provide adequate visualization of the nasopharynx. “This would be highly unlikely,” emphasizes Levinson.

Rule #3: Code 31231 is a component of Column 1 code 31575 but a modifier is allowed in order…

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Avoid Denials With This Lowdown on Newborn CCI Bundles

These edits took effect April 1, so start observing them yesterday.

The latest version of the Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) has an edit that family practice coders should note – especially if the practice treats newborn patients.

Get to know the new CCI 16.1 edit and get ready to observe it with this expert breakdown. Check Column 1 on These Hospital E/Ms According to CCI 16.1, these codes are in column 1 of the mutually exclusive edits:

  • 99231 (Subsequent hospital care, per day, for the evaluation and management of a patient, which requires at least 2 of these 3 key components: a problem focused interval history; a problem focused examination; medical decision making that is straightforward or of low complexity …)
  • 99232 (… an expanded problem focused interval history; an expanded problem focused examination; medical decision making of moderate complexity …)
  • 99233 (… a detailed interval history; a detailed examination; medical decision making of high complexity …).

Column 2 of these edits includes these codes:

  • 99460 (Initial hospital or birthing center care, per day,for evaluation and management of normal newborn infant)
  • 99461 (Initial care, per day, for evaluation and management of normal newborn infant seen in other than hospital or birthing center)
  • 99462 (Subsequent hospital care, per day. for evaluation and management of normal newborn).

Translation: An FP may not report both normal newborn care and subsequent hospital care for a newborn on the same date of service. If the FP performs normal newborn services (99460-99462) on the same date that the newborn later becomes ill and receives subsequent hospital care (99231-99233), you should only report a code from the 99231-99233 code set, explains Kent Moore, manager of health care financing and delivery systems for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in Leawood, Kan.


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Correct Coding Initiative: ‘Mutually Exclusive’ and ‘Bundled’ Defined

Decipher what column 1/column 2 means in this neurosurgery bundle example.

Question: Would you explain what the differences are between mutually exclusive and “column 1/column 2″ edits that come from the Correct Coding Initiative (CCI)?

Florida Subscriber

Answer: Mutually exclusive…

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Surgery Coding: Look at Service Date Before Appending Modifier 59

Make sure your documentation supports the additional substantial complexity of the hernia repair and mesh.

Question: A patient presented for a colectomy for colon cancer. The physician also discovered that the patient had a ventral incarcerated hernia that required a

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Red Alert, Cardiology Coders: Expect EP Study + Ablation Denials Until April 1

CMS won’t fix CCI blunder until version 16.1, to be released in the spring.
If your heart skipped a beat when you saw that January’s Correct Coding Initiative (CCI) edits bundled catheter ablations with electrophysiology (EP) studies, you weren’t alone.
Good news: CMS has decided to delete the edits retroactively because their addition was a mistake, according […]

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