Tag Archives | Medical Necessity

CDI and Medical Necessity: Closing the Gap Could Prevent Denials

Exactly what is medical necessity? To many, it is the belief that a service or procedure is warranted or justified for a patient. Others view it as a way for health plans to deny coverage for a service. The American Medical Association (AMA) defines medical necessity as “healthcare services or products that a prudent physician […]

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Why Medical Necessity Continues to Be a Top Priority

Medical necessity is an important issue. Just review the definition of medical necessity: “a legal doctrine, related to activities which may be justified as reasonable, necessary, and/or appropriate, based on evidence-based clinical standards of care.” So, what does that really mean? A few years ago, I was preparing to speak at a national conference with […]

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Spelling Out Medical Necessity; Duplicative Coding

SPELLING OUT MEDICAL NECESSITY Q:  Does a diagnosis code alone support medical necessity for lab tests?  Shouldn’t there be something in the note documenting a sign/symptom or current status of the condition?  I do not think that by simple virtue of having a confirmed diagnosis that lab tests are always medically necessary.

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How To Avoid ICD-10 Denials For Medical Necessity

In the wake of the Oct. 1 transition to ICD-10, very few issues have surfaced. However, providers and billers have experienced difficulty with coding for medical necessity, receiving denials due to outdated Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) that do not include current diagnosis codes.

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Gap Exists Between Medical Necessity, Insurance Coverage

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CMS Offers Great News With Fee Schedule Changes

Boost co-surgery, multiple surgery, and bilateral surgery pay for these select procedures

You’ll no longer have to eat the cost of your services if your physician acts as co-surgeon on spine revisions. Thanks to several Fee Schedule changes that CMS recently enacted. CMS had good news in MLN Matters article MM7430, which had an effective date of Jan. 1, 2011 and an implementation date of July 5, 2011.

Look for Potential Co-Surgery Payment for These Codes:

CMS will change the co-surgery indicator for spine revision codes 22212 and 22222 from “0” to “1”. Keep in mind that supporting documentation is required when billing for a co-surgeon with these procedures, so don’t forget to submit that with your claim or you’ll be looking at bad news.

Remember: If you’re billing for co-surgery, append modifier 62 (Two surgeons) to your procedure code. For modifier 62 claims, most payers pay an additional fee (generally 125 percent of the “usual” fee for the procedure, split evenly between the two surgeons). Avoid reimbursement problems by checking these claims carefully. To claim co-surgeons, each surgeon must perform a distinct portion of a single CPT procedure, and each surgeon must dictate and submit his own operative report for his portion of the surgery.

Benefit From Surgical Assist Changes:

Practices that perform sinus endoscopies will also get a potential boost from the fee schedule changes, now that you’ll see the assistant at surgery indicator change for codes 31233 and 31235 from “1” (Assistant at surgery may not be paid) to “0” (Payment restrictions for assistants at surgery applies to this procedure unless supporting documentation is submitted to establish medical necessity).

You’ll append modifier 80 to the assistant’s surgical codes if the assisting surgeon is a physician. In cases when a non-physician assists at surgery on Medicare patients, append…

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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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High BMI: To Use Or Not to Use Modifier 22

The new fifth-digit diagnosis codes for body mass index (BMI) can help you better document a patient’s condition, especially when the patient’s BMI might contribute to more complex risk factors for the anesthesiologist to handle. Having documentation of a high BMI doesn’t automatically lead to more pay, however. Watch two areas before assuming you can automatically append modifier 22 (Increased procedural services) because of BMI and potentially score a 20-30 percent higher pay for the procedure.

Not All Morbid Obesity Means Modifier 22

A patient is considered to be morbidly obese when his or her BMI is 40 or more. New BMI codes for 2011 include:

  • V85.41 — Body Mass Index 40.0-44.9, adult
  • V85.42 — Body Mass Index 45.0-49.9, adult
  • V85.43 — Body Mass Index 50.0-59.9, adult
  • V85.44 — Body Mass Index 60.0-69.9, adult
  • V85.45 — Body Mass Index 70 and over, adult.

While morbid obesity can be an appropriate reason to report modifier 22, don’t assume you should always append the modifier just because the patient is morbidly obese.

Example 1: During surgical procedures that are performed because of morbid obesity (such as bariatric surgery), the patient must meet the morbidly obese criteria too support medical necessity for the procedure. In those type instances, simply having a patient who is morbidly obese doesn’t support using modifier 22. Remember, if you report a physical status modifier for a patient who is morbidly obese, it is not appropriate to also include modifier 22. Keep in mind that Medicare does not pay for physical status, qualifying circumstances, or extra work modifiers.

The anesthesia provider’s documentation should direct you to the correct BMI code as well as support when you can append modifier 22.

Example 2: The patient’s obesity might contribute to breathing problems that lead to lower oxygen and…

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Per New CMS Transmittal Modifier, All Claims With Modifier GZ Will Be Denied Immediately

As per the latest CMS regulation, all claims with modifier GZ appended will be denied straight away. It is not unusual even in the best-run medical practices that the physician performs a noncovered service and doesn’t get an ABN signed.
If you shoul…

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Assistant Surgeon Coding: Which Modifier To Use?

Question: Our surgeon assisted another surgeon from a different practice on a laparoscopic partial colon resection for a patient with Crohn’s disease. The other surgeon scrubbed out, and our surgeon proceeded to ligate an internal hemorrhoid. How can…

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Anesthesia Coding: Find the Missing EGD Reimbursement Link

Warning: Just including EGD diagnosis with your claim doesn’t guarantee reimbursement — here’s help.

Question: Our anesthesiologist provided anesthesia during an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedure, at the request of the attending physician. We coded the anesthesia portion with 00810. A note in the documentation mentions the request was due to the patient’s symptoms, but no other details were provided. The claim we submitted was denied, but we followed all of the other guidelines provided by the payer, including proof that the anesthesiologist administered Propofol. What did we do wrong?

Answer: One key to the denial might be found in the lack of coding for the patient’s condition. Your diagnosis code should indicate the co-existing medical condition that justifies your anesthesiologist’s involvement in the case, not the gastrointestinal condition leading to the endoscopy.

You may want to consult with your anesthesiologist to verify that the patient had a condition such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease (332.0)
  • Heart conditions (such as 410.xx, Acute myocardial infarction or 427.41, Ventricular fibrillation)
  • Mental retardation (318.x)
  • Seizure disorders (such as 780.39, Other convulsions)
  • Anxiety (such as 300.0x, Anxiety states)
  • Pregnancy
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse.

These are just some of the conditions that payers may require to justify the presence of an anesthesiologist at a colonoscopy. ICD-9 2010 also has two codes to describe failed sedation attempts: 995.24 (Failed moderate sedation during procedure) and V15.80 (Personal history of failed moderate sedation).

If your anesthesiologist’s documentation confirms one of these conditions, 995.24 or V15.80 would also justify an anesthesiologist’s involvement to most payers. The conditions listed above constitute the medical necessity of anesthesia with the procedure. If you used a screening diagnosis or treatment of commonly found conditions instead of the clinical condition requiring anesthesia, payers will not pay you for these services.

Also note the…

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Recognize a Write-Off in 6 Steps

Save this option for when other collection methods have failed.

You’ve offered discounts, payment plans, and more,but you still haven’t received payment from a patient. You may be forced to do a write-off at this point, says Steve Verno, CMMC,…

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Watch Key Conditions to Scratch Eye Allergy Coding Itch

Get the specifics on eye irritation to find the most accurate diagnosis code.

The spring allergy snap will be here soon. Be prepared to treat and code eye irritations to recoup all your deserved reimbursement with this advice from the…

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Put Your Rehab Coding and Billing Knowledge to the Test

This quick quiz will show you where you fall.

Want to stay polished on your coding and billing skills to ensure stellar reimbursement and compliance? Give this quiz a whirl, and then turn to page 21 for the answers —…

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Follow 3 Steps on the Path to Paid Cerumen Removal

Medicare won’t pay 69210 alone, so here’s how to unlock payment.

Impacted cerumen removal is a fairly straightforward procedure, but billing for the procedure is not always so simple.

The problem: Most payers, including Medicare,consider 69210 (Removal impacted cerumen [separate

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Ob-gyn Coding: Order, Not Implant, Decides Diagnostic vs. Screening Mammogram

Examine Medicare’s coverage guidelines.

Question: My ob-gyn sees a patient who has breast implants or breast augmentation and orders a mammogram. Should I count the mammography as a screening or a diagnostic test?

Louisiana Subscriber

Answer: Implants and augmentation…

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