CMS – aka Medicare – has published details on the pending cut to physician reimbursement and some physician groups are howling. The cuts aren’t uniform; Any changes to the fee schedule done via rulemaking must be budget neutral; if some payments go up, others must go down.
Overall reimbursement is slated to drop by about 4%.
Surgery and radiology are two of the specialties especially vocal about the changes, which MAY be altered or retracted if Congress passes a law revising the reimbursement change.
(Details on this are here…)
A couple other things of note…
- Of interest to workers’ comp are new codes (CQ and CO) and payment for services rendered by PTAs and OTAs supervised by PTs and OTs at 85% of the PT/OT rate. there are modifiers and time requirements, so make sure your BR entity has got this coded correctly.
- The CPT Codebook listing of bundled services are not separately payable. I’d note that this is NOT universally understood by work comp bill review entities; yes it is complicated and yes it changes, so payers would be well-advised to make darn sure they are handling these bills correctly.
- Critical care services may be paid separately in addition to a procedure with a global surgical period if the critical care is unrelated to the surgical procedure. Again, this is why reviewing provider notes is key, because facilities/practices often bill these separately in the hope that the payer won’t catch the “unrelatedness” issue. Separately, a denial of payment for critical care services should NOT result in an additional fee to the payer; that is basic bill review – or should be. Also, watch out for PPO fees attached to those separate charges – BR and PPO companies make money on those “reductions” while they DON’T make more $$ on just denying the critical care service as part of a code review.
So, what does this mean/what are the implications?
Watch out for creative billing/increased utilization as providers look to make up for lost revenue/lower reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.
Ensure that A) your bill review program is prepared to handle these changes and B) you aren’t paying extra for that “management.”
(for more on the issue of how Sequestration effects reimbursement, go here.)