Posts Tagged eRx


Start PQRS Now! It’s Not As Hard As You Think

Getting Started with PQRSNOTE: CMS has just added additional presentations of the webinar below – please check the end of the article for added dates. MPW

What is PQRS?


Posted in: Collections, Billing & Coding, Compliance, Day-to-Day Operations, Electronic Medical Records, Finance, Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement, Quality

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A Guide to Healthcare Buzzwords and What They Mean: Part One (A through L)

Welcome to our guide to Healthcare Buzzwords!

Understanding Healthcare Jargon


An acronym for “Accountable Care Organization”, an ACO is a model of healthcare delivery in which a group of healthcare providers agree to accept payment for their services based on the aggregated health outcomes of the patients they see, as opposed to the total number of services performed. ACOs reward providers in a “fee for health” model, as opposed to a traditional “fee for service” model. Although the term ACO can apply to a variety of types of organizations, regulations for establishing ACOs to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program specifically were included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Big Data


Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Headlines

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Guest Consultant Cindy Dunn: Medical Practices Need to Start Now to Plan for a Happy New Year in 2013

Changes in health-care policy, new regulations, financial incentives and penalties have a direct effect on all healthcare organizations.  As we round the corner towards 2013, take a few minutes to create an agenda of Medicare Incentive Programs and a few management initiatives to review with your physicians and leadership team.

Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Most practices have an EHR but often times it is not fully implemented:

  • Are all of your physicians using the EHR?
  • Do you have the latest version?
  • Are all of your employees and providers trained properly?
  • Are you utilizing all of the available functionality?

Meaningful Use (MU)


Posted in: Collections, Billing & Coding, Compliance, Day-to-Day Operations, Electronic Medical Records, Finance, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week

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Physicians! Another Chance to Avoid a 1.5% Reduction of All Medicare Payments in 2013

Avoid The Medicare Payment Cut

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just announced that the Quality Reporting Communication Support Page (where you go to apply for one of the four hardship exemptions from the 2013 1.5% Medicare payment reduction) will re-open November 1, 2012 through January 31, 2013 for Medicare 2013 Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Payment Adjustment Hardship Exemption Requests.

Beginning November 1, 2012, CMS will re-open the Quality Reporting Communication Support Page to allow individual eligible professionals and CMS-selected group practices the opportunity to request a significant hardship exemption for the 2013 eRx payment adjustment. Significant hardship request should be submitted via the Quality Reporting Communication Support Page (Communication Support Page) on or between November 1, 2012 and January 31, 2012. CMS will review these requests on a case-by-case basis. All decisions on significant hardship exemption requests will be final.

Important — Please note that this is for the 2013 eRx payment adjustment only. Hardship exemption requests for the 2014 payment adjustment will be accepted during a separate time frame later in calendar year 2013.

Are you already exempt from the 2013 1.5% payment cut?

The 2013 eRx payment adjustment only applies to certain individual eligible professionals. CMS will automatically exclude those individual eligible professionals who meet the following criteria:


Posted in: Electronic Medical Records, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week

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CMS Proposes Payment Increases (!) for Family Physicians and Other Primary Care Practitioners

On July 6, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would increase payments to family physicians by approximately 7 percent and other practitioners providing primary care services between 3 and 5 percent. The increase in payment to family practitioners is part of the proposed rule that would update payment policies and rates under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for calendar year (CY) 2013. Under the MPFS, Medicare pays more than 1 million physicians and nonphysician practitioners that provide vital health services to Medicare beneficiaries.


Posted in: Electronic Medical Records, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week, Quality

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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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Medicare This Week: Private E/M Billing Reports, Two Free Calls on eRx and 5010, Revised Medicare Conditions of Participation

  • CMS to Start Accepting Suggestions for PQRS Measures and Measure Groups (jump to story)

  • New Rules Finalized by Health and Human Services to Cut Regulations for Hospitals and Health Care Providers  (jump to story)

  • Denise Buenning from CMS Answers the Industry’s Top Questions about the Version 5010 Upgrade (jump to story)

  • Last Chance to Register for National Provider Call – Physician Quality Reporting System & Electronic Prescribing (eRx) (jump to story)

  • CMS to Release a Comparative Billing Report on Evaluation and Management Services (jump to story)

  • May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day (jump to story)


Posted in: Day-to-Day Operations, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week

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Medicare News for Week of April 17, 2012: CMS Website Upgraded, 2 National Provider Calls, Proposed CQMs for MU Stage 2 and 27 ACOs are Announced


Posted in: Collections, Billing & Coding, Compliance, Electronic Medical Records, Finance, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week

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Medicare News for the Week of February 13, 2012: PQRS, eRX and EHR, EHR and EHR


Posted in: Electronic Medical Records, Headlines, Medicare & Reimbursement, Medicare This Week

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My Notes on the March 22, 2011 CMS Open Door Forum on Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRI) for the Beginner

Very scary

Today’s CMS Open Door Forum was a good one. The slides (pdf here), although reviewed quickly during the call, are a comprehensive resource for anyone needing in-depth information on qualifying for incentives through PQRI. The information is complex, but anyone can start the process tomorrow and successfully get their check (next year.)

PQRI has been renamed PQRS.

These are the key points of the information presented:

  1. You can tell if you are eligible for the incentive program by checking the main PQRS site here. Scroll down to Downloads and click on “List of Eligible Professionals.”
  2. There is no registration required to report quality data.
  3. PQRS should not be confused with incentives offered for ePrescribing or meaningful use of a certified Electronic Health Record – these are three distinct systems.
  4. There are new Physician Quality Reporting Measure Specifications every year – use the correct year.
  5. Reporting can be done as individual eligible providers or as groups, however groups needed to be self-nominated by January 31, 2011, so that door is closed for this year.
  6. Eligible providers can choose to report for 12 months: January 1”“December 31, 2011 or for 6 months: July 1-December 31, 2011 (claims and registry-based reporting only.)
  7. There are two reporting methods for submission of measures groups that involve a patient sample selection: 30-patient sample method and 50% patient sample method. An “intent G-code” must be submitted for either method to initiate intent to report measures groups via claims. If a patient selected for inclusion in the 30-patient sample did not receive all the quality actions and that patient returns at a subsequent encounter, QDC(s) may be added (where applicable) to the subsequent claim to indicate that the quality action was performed during the reporting period.
    Physician Quality Reporting analysis will consider all QDCs submitted across multiple claims for patients included in the 30-patient samples.
  8. Eligible professionals who have contracted with Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans should not include their MA patients in claims-based reporting of measures groups using the 30 unique patient sample method. Only Medicare Part B FFS patients (primary and secondary coverage including Railroad Medicare) should be included in claims-based reporting of measures groups.
  9. Choose which group measures OR individual measures (3 minimum) you want to report on based on your method of reporting. Review your choices here.
  10. If you plan to report using a registry or EHR, make sure the systems are qualified by checking here.
  11. Here is the schedule for PQRS incentives and “payment adjustments” (financial dings.)
  • Incentives (based on the eligible professional’s or group’s estimated total Medicare Part B PFS allowed charges)
    • 2007 ”“1.5% subject to a cap
    • 2008 ”“1.5%
    • 2009, 2010  ”“2.0%
    • 2011 ”“1%
    • 2012, 2013, 2014 ”“0.5%
  • Payment Adjustments (you lose money)
    • 2015 ”“98.5%
    • 2016 and subsequent years ”“98.0%

What follows are the Questions and Answers from the listeners.

Q: Do PQRS measures need to be reported once per encounter or once per episode?

A: It depends on the measure. Check the list to see what each measure requires.

Q: Is there a code to submit if we cannot qualify due to low numbers of Medicare patients?

A: No, CMS will calculate this and will know you cannot qualify and you will be exempt from the payment adjustment.

Q: Can both admitting physicians and consulting physicians submit the same quality codes?

A: Yes, all eligible providers working with a patient can report the same code if appropriate.

Q: How do we know if we qualified for the eRx incentive for 2010?

A: Payments will come early fall and feedback reports will be available that break down each provider’s incentive.

Q: For the eRx incentive, is it 10 eRxs before June 30, 2011 and 25 before January 31, 2011 for each PROVIDER or each PRACTICE?

A: Each provider.

Q: What is the difference between the numerator and the denominator in PQRS?

A: The numerator is the clinical quality action (for instance, putting a patient on a beta blocker) and the denominator is the group of patients for whom the quality action applies (which patients with appropriate diagnoses are eligible for beta blocker therapy.)

Q: Do all the preventive measures in this group have to be utilized?

A: Not all measures will apply to all patients, for instance mammograms for females only.

Q: Is there a code to be placed on the claim that says a measure is not applicable for this patient?

A: No.

Q: How do you know if a measure code on a claim has been accepted?

A: You will receive a rejection code on your EOB that indicates the code was submitted for information purposes only. Remittance Advice (RA) with denial code N365 is your indication that Physician Quality Reporting codes were passed into the National Claims History (NCH) file for use in calculating incentive eligibility.

Q: How can a new provider get started with quality reporting?

A: Any provider can start any time by reporting through claims, a registry or an EHR.

Q: Should providers bill for PQRI under their individual number or under their group number?

A: Under their individual number.

Q: Can a physician delegate the eRx process to a staff member, just as they might have a nurse write a prescription for them?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you clarify the three incentive programs and which a practice can participate in at the same time?

A: The Physician Quality Reporting System, eRx Incentive Program, and EHR Incentive Program are three distinctly separate CMS programs.

The Physician Quality Reporting System incentive can be received regardless of an eligible professional’s participation in the other programs.

There are three ways to participate in the EHR Incentive Program: through Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid.

If participating in the EHR Incentive Program through the Medicaid option, eligible professionals are able to also receive the eRx incentive.

If participating in the Medicare or Medicare Advantage options for the EHR Incentive Program, eligible professionals can still report the eRx measure but are only eligible to receive one incentive payment. Eligible professionals successfully participating in both programs will receive the EHR incentive.

Eligible professionals should continue to report the eRx measure in 2011 even if their practice is also participating in the Medicare or Medicare Advantage EHR Incentive Program because claims data for the first six months of 2011 will be analyzed to determine if a 2012 eRx Payment Adjustment will apply to the eligible professional.

If an eligible professional successfully generates and reports electronically prescribing 25 times (at least 10 of which are in the first 6 months of 2011 and submitted via claims to CMS) for eRx measure denominator eligible services, (s)he would also be exempt from the 2013 eRx payment adjustment.

The transcript and a recording of today’s call will be posted on the CMS website within a few weeks.

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