Posts Tagged AWV


12 Ways to Supercharge Your Practice in 2012: #12 – 9 Ways to Maximize Your Medicare Payments


Medicare has so many programs that have the potential to increase or decrease your payments that practices need a list to keep them straight.

Here’s your list with information on which programs are mutually exclusive and which can be combined.


1. Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Program

  • You must be an eligible provider to participate.
  • You must be the owner of the EHR, although you do not need to have paid for the EHR.
  • The EHR must be certified.
  • You can choose to participate in Medicare (federally administered) or Medicaid (state administered) program.
  • You must register for the programs.
  • You must attest or document that you have adopted, implemented, upgraded or demonstrate meaningful use.
  • Eligible professionals choosing to participate the Medicare program can each earn up to $44K over 5 years, and eligible professionals choosing to participate in the Medicaid program can each earn up to $63,750 over 6 years.

2. ePrescribing Incentive Program

  • Eligible professionals do not need to register for the program.
  • You can participate in one of three ways: via submitting codes on claim forms, via an EHR or via a registry
  • Each professional needs to report 10 eRx events for Medicare patients for dates of service before June 30, 2012 OR apply for one of five exclusions or four exemptions.
  • EPs who are successful e-prescribers can qualify to earn an incentive payment based on a percentage of their total estimated Medicare PFS allowed charges processed not later than 2 months after the end of the reporting period. For reporting year 2012, EPs who are successful e-prescribers can qualify to earn an incentive payment equal to 1.0 percent of allowed charges. For reporting year 2013, EPs can qualify to earn an incentive payment of 0.5 percent of allowed charges. Beginning in 2012, EPs who are not successful e-prescribers in 2011 and do not qualify for a hardship exception will be subject to a payment adjustment equal to 1.0 percent of their Medicare PFS allowed charges. The payment adjustment increases to 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2.0 percent in 2014.

3. PQRS (Physician Quality Reporting System)

  • Originally called PQRI (Physician Quality Reporting Initiative) is the basis for pay-for-performance models.
  • Physicians may report individually or practices may choose a set of three measures that relate to the type of patients they see. Measures are  performed and modifiers are attached to claims.
  • Bonuses are available until 2014; starting in 2015 practices not participating in PQRS will receive a negative payment adjustment.
  • For reporting years 2012 through 2014, EPs who satisfactorily report Physician Quality Reporting System measures will earn an incentive payment equal to 0.5 percent of allowed charges. Additionally, for reporting years 2011 through 2014, EPs who satisfactorily report Physician Quality Reporting System measures can qualify to earn an additional 0.5 percent incentive payment by, more frequently than is required to qualify for or maintain board certification status, participating in a maintenance of certification program and successfully completing a qualified maintenance of certification program practice assessment. Beginning in 2015, EPs who do not satisfactorily report under the Physician Quality Reporting System will be subject to a payment adjustment equal to 1.5 percent of their Medicare PFS allowed charges. The payment adjustment increases to 2.0 percent in 2016 and beyond.

4. Medicare Wellness Visits

  • Many practices are losing money due to the confusion over what Medicare pays for and what Medicare doesn’t pay for.  Medicare introduced three new visits in 2010 and many providers continue to have trouble understanding and providing them correctly.
  • The “Welcome to Medicare” visit is technically called the “Initial Patient Physical Examination” (IPPE), but to everyone’s dismay, it is not a physical examination at all, with the exception of basic visits such as height, weight, BMI, blood pressure and pulse, and the potential for an EKG and an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screening. The Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) and the Subsequent Annual Wellness Visit are not physical examinations either, yet almost ALL patients believe that Medicare now gives free annual physicals.
  • Practices must train all staff and physicians to use the correct terminology first. I suggest everyone stop using the phrases “annual physical” or “complete physical” with Medicare patients. Patients can request and receive:
    • A Welcome to Medicare Visit with no exam (no deductible, no co-insurance)
    • A first annual Wellness Visit with no exam  (no deductible, no co-insurance)
    • A Subsequent Annual Wellness Visit with no exam every year thereafter (no deductible, no co-insurance)
  • What patients think they want is either a preventive visit, which Medicare will NOT pay for, or a standard Evaluation & Management (E/M) visit, which their deductible and co-insurance will apply to.
  • The only way the practice can win is by driving home to patients what Medicare does pay for and doesn’t pay for and making sure your documentation matches the code you submit to Medicare.


5. The ABN (Advance Beneficiary Notice)

  • Many practices miss revenue when they provide services to Medicare patients that are statutorily excluded from Medicare benefits.
  • These may be services that do not meet the Medicare definition of medical necessity or are provided at more frequent intervals than Medicare approves.
  • Identifying these non-covered services is the hard thing, however, unless your EMR can alert you to a service that will not be paid by Medicare, and if the patient requests the service and signs an ABN prior to the provision of the service  In this case, the practice may collect the full fee from the patient.

6. Primary Care Incentive Payment Program (PCIP)

  • Eligible Providers (Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, and Physicians who have their primary specialty designation in family medicine, internal medicine, geriatric medicine or pediatric medicine) can receive a 10% incentive payment for services under Part B.
  • The PCIP program, which was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires Medicare to pay primary care providers, whose primary care billings comprise at least 60 percent of their total Medicare allowed charges, a quarterly 10-percent bonus from Jan. 1, 2011, until the end of December 2015.
  • Eligible primary care physicians furnishing a primary care service in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) area may receive both a HPSA and a PCIP payment.

7. HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area)

  • Medicare makes bonus payments annually of 10% to physicians who provide medical care services in geographic areas that lack sufficient health care providers to meet the needs of the population.
  • Payments are automatic; there is no need to register or report anything on the claim for
  • If services are provided in ZIP code areas that do not fall entirely within a full county HPSA or partial county HPSA, the AQ modifier must be entered on the claim to receive the bonus.


8. HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area ) Surgical Incentive Payment (HSIP)

  • The Affordable Care Act of 2010, Section 5501 (b)(4) expands bonus payments for general surgeons in HPSAs.  Effective January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2015, physicians serving in designated HPSAs will receive an additional 10% bonus for major surgical procedures with a 10 or 90 day global period.
  • Payments are automatic; there is no need to register or report anything on the claim form.
  • If services are provided in ZIP code areas that do not fall entirely within a full county HPSA or partial county HPSA, the AQ modifier must be entered on the claim to receive the bonus.

9. NEW! Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative (CPCi)

  • Payment model per beneficiary per month (PBPM) for care management of Medicaid and Medicare patients
  • Markets in Arkansas, Colorado, New jersey, New York, Ohio/Kentucky, Oklahoma and Oregon for Medicaid patients
  • Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio and Oregon are the four states for Medicaid pilots.
  • Multiple payers, including CMS, will be paying a monthly care management fee to support the 5 primary care functions of:
    • Risk-stratified care management
    • Access and continuity
    • Planned care for chronic care & preventive care
    • Patient & caregiver engagement
    • Coordination of care across the medical neighborhood
  • Primary care practices in the states and markets can apply from June 15 to July 20, 2012 (application here.)


What Medicare Bonus or Incentive Programs Can Be Claimed Together?

  • PQRS can claimed with eRx.
  • PQRS can be claimed with EHR.
  • HPSA and PCIP are automatic and are not affected by any other programs
  • EHR and eRx can both be claimed but you cannot earn both an eRx incentive and an EHR incentive in the same year if you elect to receive the EHR incentive payment through Medicare. NOTE: Just because you cannot claim the eRx bonus in conjunction with EHR incentive, you must still continue to ePrescribe to avoid the eRx penalty!


Posted in: 12 Ways to Supercharge Your Practice, General

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My Notes on Today’s CMS Call on the Initial Preventive Physical Exam (Not a Physical Exam) and the Annual Wellness Visit

Today’s CMS call reviewed the guidelines for the IPPE (Initial Preventive Physical Exam) and the AWV (Annual Wellness Visit), what they include and how to code for them.

What is the IPPE (also called the “Welcome to Medicare Visit”)?

The IPPE is a one-time visit, covered within 12 months after the effective date of Part B coverage and including:

  • Review of medical and social history.
  • Review of risk factors for depression.
  • Review of functional ability and level of safety.
  • Measurement of height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, visual acuity, and other factors deemed appropriate.
  • Discussion of end-of-life planning, if agreed upon by the patient.
  • Education, counseling and referrals based on results of review and evaluation services performed during the visit, including a brief written plan such as a checklist, and if appropriate, education, counseling and referral for obtaining an electrocardiogram (a/k/a EKG, ECG).
  • Note that although the IPPE has the word “exam” in it, there is NO physical exam associated with it. Most practices attempt to call it the Welcome to Medicare Visit and try never to use the word “exam” in association with it.

Who can provide the IPPE?

  • Physician (doctor of medicine or osteopathy)
  • Qualified non-physician practitioner including nurse practitioner physician assistant or Clinical nurse specialist

How is the IPPE Billed?


Posted in: Collections, Billing & Coding, Compliance, Day-to-Day Operations, Medicare & Reimbursement

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Updated 2011 CMS Policies: Incentive Payments, GPCI Revisions, Multiple Procedure Payment Reductions for Therapy, and Modification of Multiple Procedure Payment Policy for Advanced Imaging Services

Gabriel Metsu - The Doctor's Visit - oil on ca...

Elimination of Deductible and Coinsurance for Most Preventive Services

Effective January 1, 2011, the Affordable Care Act waives the Part B deductible and the 20 percent coinsurance that would otherwise apply to most preventive services.

Note: I covered this in my post here and it’s pretty straightforward.

Coverage of Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) Providing a Personalized Prevention Plan

The Affordable Care Act extends the preventive focus of Medicare coverage, which currently pays for a one-time initial preventive physical examination (IPPE or the “Welcome to Medicare Visit”), to provide coverage for annual wellness visits in which beneficiaries will receive personalized prevention plan services (PPPS). The law states that the AWV will include at least the following six elements, as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services:

  • Establish or update the individual’s medical and family history;
  • List the individual’s current medical providers and suppliers and all prescribed medications;
  • Record measurements of height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and other routine measurements;
  • Detect any cognitive impairment
  • Establish or update a screening schedule for the next 5 to 10 years including screenings appropriate for the general population, and any additional screenings that may be appropriate because of the individual patient’s risk factors; and
  • Furnish personalized health advice and appropriate referrals to health education or education or preventive services.

CMS has developed two separate Level II HCPCS codes for the first annual wellness visit (G0438 – Annual wellness visit, including personalized prevention plan services, first visit), to be paid at the rate of a level 4 office visit for a new patient (similar to the IPPE), and for subsequent annual wellness visits (G0439 – Annual wellness visit, including personalized prevention plan services, subsequent visit), to be paid at the rate of a level 4 office visit for an established patient.

Note: Payment for annual wellness visits (AWV) is now covered by Medicare and the payment will be equivalent to a established level 4 visit. I’ve received a lot of questions about who can perform the PPPS and CMS says A medical professional (including a health educator, registered dietitian, or nutrition professional or other licensed practitioner) or a team of such medical professionals, working under the direct supervision of a physician.”

An evaluation and management code (EM) may be billed with the annual wellness visit if the EM service is medically necessary.  If so, a modifier 25 must be appended to the EM service and the documentation for the EM service must have no components of the annual wellness visit used in determining the level of service for the EM visit.  A separate note containing the history, exam and medical decision making, relative to the presenting problem, must be separately documented.

Incentive Payments to Primary Care Practitioners for Primary Care Services

The Affordable Care Act provides for incentive payments equal to 10 percent of a primary care practitioner’s allowed charges for primary care services under Part B, furnished on or after January 1, 2011, and before January 1, 2016. Under the final policy, primary care practitioners are: (1) physicians who have a primary specialty designation of family medicine, internal medicine, geriatric medicine, or pediatric medicine; as well as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and physician assistants; and (2) for whom primary care services accounted for at least 60 percent of the practitioner’s Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) allowed charges for a prior period as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The law also defines primary care services as limited to new and established patient office or other outpatient visits (CPT codes 99201 through 99215); nursing facility care visits, and domiciliary, rest home, or home care plan oversight services (CPT codes 99304 through 99340); and patient home visits (CPT codes 99341 through 99350).

In the final rule with comment period, CMS excluded consideration of allowed charges for hospital inpatient care and emergency department visits in determining whether the 60 percent primary care threshold is met. These exclusions will make it easier for practitioners of eligible specialties to become eligible for the payment incentive program. The incentive payments will be made quarterly based on the primary care services furnished in CY 2011 by the primary care practitioner, in addition to any physician bonus payments for services furnished in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).  CMS will determine a practitioner’s eligibility for incentive payments in CY 2011 using claims data and the provider’s specialty designation from CY 2009 for practitioners enrolled in CY 2009. For newly enrolled practitioners, CMS will use claims data from CY 2010 to make an eligibility determination regarding CY 2011 incentive payments. For subsequent years, CMS will revise the list of primary care practitioners on a yearly basis, based on updated data regarding an individual’s specialty designation and percentage of allowed charges for primary care

Note: There is nothing to count or report: the bonuses arrive quarterly. Providers in HPSAs will receive two bonuses. Want to know if you’re in a HPSA? Click here.

Incentive Payments for Major Surgical Procedures in Health Professional Shortage Areas

The Affordable Care Act also calls for a payment incentive program to improve access to major surgical procedures ”“ defined as those with a 10-day or 90-day global period under the MPFS ”“ that are furnished by physicians in HPSAs on or after January 1, 2011, and before January 1, 2016.  To be eligible for the incentive payment, the physician must be enrolled in Medicare as a general surgeon. The amount of the incentive payment is equal to 10 percent of the MPFS payment for the surgical services furnished by the general surgeon. The incentive payments will be made quarterly to the general surgeon when the major surgical procedure is furnished in a zip code that is located in a HPSA. CMS will use the same list of HPSAs that it has used under the existing HPSA bonus program.

Note: 10% bonus for general surgeons in HPSAs. Want to know if you’re in a HPSA? Click here.

Revisions to the Practice Expense Geographic Adjustment

As required by the Medicare law, CMS adjusts payments under the MPFS to reflect local differences in practice costs. CMS assigns separate geographic practice cost indices (GPCIs) to the work, practice expenses (PE), and malpractice insurance cost components of each of more than 7,000 types of physicians’ services. The final rule with comment period discusses CMS’ analysis of PE GPCI data and methods, and incorporates new data as part of the sixth GPCI update, while maintaining the current GPCI cost share weights pending the results of further CMS and Institute of Medicine studies.

The Affordable Care Act establishes a permanent 1.0 floor for the PE GPCI for frontier states (currently, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota). The Affordable Care Act limits recognition of local differences in employee wages and office rents in the PE GPCIs for CYs 2011 and 2012 as compared to the national average. Localities are held harmless for any decrease in CYs 2011 and 2012 in their PE GPCIs that would result from the limited recognition of cost differences. CMS will continue to review the GPCIs in CY 2011, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act provision that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to analyze current methods of establishing PE GPCIs in order to make adjustments that fairly and reliably distinguish the costs of operating a medical practice in the different fee schedule areas.

Note: Check your GPCI (pronounced “gypsy”) for changes this year and every year.  The GPCI changes the RVU values so they are specific to your location.

Where do I find my GPCI? Click here, click on Physician Fee Schedule Search at the top, click to accept the AMA terms, click on Geographic Practice Cost Index, enter your locality and click submit.

Improved Access to Certified Nurse-Midwife Services

The Affordable Care Act increases the Medicare payment for certified nurse-midwife services from 65 percent of the PFS amount for the same service furnished by a physician to 100 percent of the PFS amount for the same service furnished by a physician (or 80 percent of the actual charge if that is less). The increased payment amount is effective for services furnished on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Misvalued Codes under the Physician Fee Schedule

The Affordable Care Act requires CMS to periodically review and identify potentially misvalued codes and make appropriate adjustments to the relative values of the services that may be misvalued. CMS has been engaged in a vigorous effort over the past several years to identify and revise potentially misvalued codes. The final rule with comment period identifies additional categories of services that may be misvalued, including codes with low work RVUs commonly billed in multiple units per single encounter and codes with high volume and low work RVUs. The final rule also includes CMS’ response to recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA) Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) for CY 2011 regarding the work or direct practice expense inputs for 325 CPT codes.

Note: People and organizations are always lobbying to change the work or practice expense component of RVUs and some portion of the codes change every year. Make sure your computer is updated with the correct RVU components and total so your productivity reports are spot on.

Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction Policy for Therapy Services

The Affordable Care Act requires CMS to identify and make adjustments to the relative values for multiple services that are frequently billed together when a comprehensive service is furnished. CMS is adopting a multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) policy for therapy services in order to more appropriately recognize the efficiencies when combinations of therapy services are furnished together. The policy, as described in the CY 2011 MPFS final rule with comment period, states that the MPPR for “always” therapy services will reduce by 25 percent the payment for the practice expense component of the second and subsequent therapy services furnished by a single provider to a beneficiary on a single date of service. This policy will apply to all outpatient therapy services paid under Part B, including those furnished in office and facility settings.

Since publication of the CY 2011 MPFS final rule with comment period, this policy has been modified by the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010.  Per this Act, CMS will apply the CY 2011 MPFS final rule policy of a 25 percent MPPR to therapy services furnished in the hospital outpatient department and other facility settings that are paid under section 1834(k) of the Social Security Act (referring to durable medical equipment), and a 20 percent therapy MPPR will apply to therapy services furnished in clinicians’ offices and other settings that are paid under section 1848 (payments to physicians) of the Act.

Note: The reduction applies solely to the practice expense (PE) portion of the fee schedule payment for “Always Therapy Services” when more than one service is provided the same patient on the same day. “Always therapy” services are always considered to be therapy regardless who provides the service (qualified therapist, physician, non-physician practitioner (NPP)). This is the list of services being referred to:

  • 92506””Speech /hearing evaluation
  • 92507””Speech/hearing therapy
  • 92508””Speech/hearing therapy
  • 92526””Oral function therapy
  • 92597””Oral speech device evaluation
  • 92604””Exam for speech device
  • 92609””Use of speech device service
  • 96125””Standardized cognitive performance test
  • 97001””PT evaluation
  • 97002””PT re-evaluation
  • 97003””OT evaluation
  • 97001””OT re-evaluation
  • 97012””Mechanical traction
  • 97016””Vasopneumatic device
  • 97018””Paraffin bath
  • 97022””Whirlpool
  • 97024””Diathermy (microwave)
  • 97026””Infrared
  • 97028””Ultraviolet
  • 97032””Electrical stimulation
  • 97033””Electric current
  • 97034””Contrast bath
  • 97035””Ultrasound
  • 97036””Hydrotherapy
  • 97110””Therapeutic exercise
  • 97112””Neuromuscular reeducation
  • 97113””Aquatic therapy
  • 97116””Gait training
  • 97124””Massage
  • 97140””Manual therapy
  • 97150””Group therapeutic
  • 97530””Therapeutic activities
  • 97533””Sensory integration
  • 97535””Self-care management
  • 97537””Community work reintegration
  • 97542””Wheelchair management
  • 97750””Physical performance test
  • 97755””Assistive technology assessment
  • 97760””Orthotic management & training
  • 97761””Prosthetic training
  • 97762””Checkout for orthotic or prosthetic use
  • G0281””Electrical stimulation for ulcers (unattended)
  • G0283””Electrical stimulation other than wound (unattended)
  • G0329””Electromagnetic therapy for ulcers

Modification of Equipment Utilization Factor and Modification of Multiple Procedure Payment Policy for Advanced Imaging Services

The Affordable Care Act adjusts the equipment utilization rate assumption for expensive diagnostic imaging equipment. Effective January 1, 2011, CMS will assign a 75 percent equipment utilization rate assumption to expensive diagnostic imaging equipment used in diagnostic computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services. In addition, beginning on July 1, 2010, the Affordable Care Act increased the established MPFS multiple procedure payment reduction for the technical component of certain single-session imaging services to consecutive body areas from 25 to 50 percent for the second and subsequent imaging procedures performed in the same session.

Note: These are the services that were added by this policy:

  • 70496-CT angiography, head
  • 70498-CT angiography, neck
  • 70544-MR angiography head w/o dye
  • 70545-MR angiography head w/dye
  • 70546-MR angiography head w/o & w/dye
  • 70547-MR angiography neck w/o dye
  • 70548-MR angiography neck w/dye
  • 70549-MR angiography neck w/o & w/dye
  • 71275-CT angiography, chest
  • 71555- MRI angiography chest w/ or w/o dye
  • 72159-MRI angiography spine w/o & w/dye
  • 72191-CT angiography, pelvis w/o & w/ dye
  • 72198-MRI angiography pelvis w/ or w/o dye
  • 73206-CT angio upper extremity w/o & w/dye
  • 73225-MR angio upper extremity w/o & w/dye
  • 73706-CT angiography lower ext w/o & w/dye
  • 73725-MR angio lower extremity w or w/o dye
  • 74175-CT angiography, abdomen w/o & w/ dye
  • 74185-MRI angiography, abdomen w/ or w/o dye
  • 75565-Cardiology MRI velocity flow map add-on
  • 75574-CT angiography heart w/3d image
  • 75635-CT angiography abdominal arteries
  • 76380-CAT scan follow-up study
  • 77079-CT bone density, peripheral

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