Changes to the CPT code set and Medicare billing
Important changes went into effect on January 1st, including a major overhaul of codes for observation care and labor and delivery. Has your practice kept up?
The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set for 2011 includes several changes of interest to ObGyns. These include 1) guideline clarifications regarding wound debridement and obstetric care codes; 2) new codes for subsequent observation care; micro-remodeling of the bladder neck; insertion of a vaginal after-loading device; and 3) a lab code for detecting amniotic fluid in cervicovaginal secretions (using the AmniSure kit).
There is also a new code for vaccine counseling that will have an impact on you if your practice offers the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to patients younger than 19 years.
There are changes to Medicare this year that you should take note of if you care for these patients, particularly in the area of preventive visit billing.
CPT and Medicare changes both took effect on January 1. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that insurers accepted the new codes on that date.
Changes to the CPT code set
One of the biggest headaches for medical practices has been standardized coding and billing for observation care that lasts more than 1 day. In the past, payers accepted a problem E/M for Day 2 of observation care, or instructed practices to code an unlisted E/M service. Now, you may report all care rendered in the observation setting with the addition of three new codes for subsequent care:
99244 Subsequent observation care, per day, for the evaluation and management of a patient, which requires at least 2 of these 3 key components: problem focused interval history, problem focused examination; medical decision making that is straightforward or of low complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient’s and/or family’s needs. Usually, the patient is stable, recovering, or improving. Physicians typically spend 15 minutes at the bedside and on the patient’s hospital floor or unit.
99225 Subsequent observation care, per day, for the evaluation and management of a patient, which requires at least 2 of these 3 key components: an expanded problem focused interval history; an expanded problem focused examination; medical decision making of moderate complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient’s and/or family’s needs. Usually, the patient is responding inadequately to therapy or has developed a minor complication. Physicians typically spend 25 minutes at the bedside and on the patient’s hospital floor or unit.
99226 Subsequent observation care, per day, for the evaluation and management of a patient, which requires at least 2 of these 3 key components: a detailed interval history; a detailed examination; medical decision making of high complexity. Counseling and/or coordination of care with other providers or agencies are provided consistent with the nature of the problem(s) and the patient’s and/or family’s needs. Usually, the patient is unstable or has developed a significant complication or a significant new problem. Physicians typically spend 35 minutes at the bedside and on the patient’s hospital floor or unit.
Note that each of these codes 1) “suggests” the status of the patient for each level of billing, and 2) includes a typical time. This means that, unlike the observation care admission codes or the observation admission/same-day discharge codes, time that is spent with the patient, or on the unit, may be used to select the code—if you document 1) the requirement that more than 50% of the typical time was spent on counseling or coordination of care, or both, and 2) a detailed description of this activity.
Codes for wound debridement were given a facelift with the addition of a new guideline that addresses both surgical and medical debridement. The surgical debridement codes, (11042–11047) are now reported on the basis of the depth of tissue removed and the surface area of the wound. This means that codes 11040 and 11041 were deleted to make room for new and revised codes.
This change will mean that, when you report these codes, you will need to document more information to bill. It’s also understood that coding separately for debridement of dermis or epidermis at the same time you code for debriding underlying structures would be inappropriate.
CPT has also indicated that active wound management codes 97597 and 97598 can now be reported by physicians or nonphysician providers as long as the provider has direct (one-on-one) contact. These codes should be reported for skin-surface debridement only.
The new and revised codes (some of which have been published in CPT in nonsequential order) are:
11042 Debridement, subcutaneous tissue (includes epidermis and dermis, if performed); first 20 sq cm or less
+11045 (new add-on code reported with 11042 only) each additional 20 sq cm or part thereof
11043 Debridement, muscle and/or facia (includes epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue, if performed); first 20 sq cm or less
+11046 (new add-on code reported with 11043 only) each additional 20 sq cm or part thereof
11044 Debridement, bone (includes epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous tissue, muscle and/or fascia, if performed); first 20 sq cm or less
+11047 (new add-on code reported with 11044 only) each additional 20 sq cm or part thereof
97597 Debridement (e.g., high pressure waterjet with/without suction, sharp selective debridement with scissors, scalpel and forceps), open wound, (e.g., fibrin, devitalized epidermis and/or dermis, exudate, debris, biofilm), including topical application(s), wound assessment, use of a whirlpool, when performed and instruction(s) for ongoing care, per session, total wound(s) surface area; first 20 sq cm or less
+95798 (add-on code reported with 97597 only) Each additional 20 sq cm, or part thereof.
Category III code 0193T, which described transurethral radiofrequency micro-remodeling for stress urinary incontinence, has been deleted and converted to a Category I CPT code, 53860 (Transurethral radiofrequency micro-remodeling of the female bladder neck and proximal urethra for stress urinary incontinence). The procedure includes a periurethral block and flushing the bladder with a lidocaine slurry, and can be performed in the office.
In all, the procedure requires nine treatment cycles during the session, but the code is billed only once. Catheterization and measurement of a voiding sample after the procedure are included in the code.
AFTERLOADING DEVICES FOR CLINICAL BRACHYTHERAPY
CPT revised—slightly—existing code 57155, and added code 57156 (Insertion of a vaginal radiation afterloading apparatus for clinical brachytherapy).
- Code 57155 was revised to clarify that only a single tandem is inserted into the uterus. There had been confusion earlier in this regard.
- The new code describes a procedure that may also include dilation of the vaginal canal to remove postradiation adhesions. That procedure also involves 1) placement of bladder and rectal catheters and 2) radiographic imaging to confirm placement, which are not coded separately.
Been having problems with payers and their interpretation of the delivery only, postpartum only, and delivery with postpartum care codes? CPT has, at last, clarified what you can, and cannot, bill in those circumstances. (Keep in mind, however, that you may not unbundle these procedures if more extensive care is provided: Most payers want you to bill the global OB care code that includes antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum care.)
In some cases (such as Medicaid), the payer stipulates that only the physician who actually performed the delivery may bill for it, even if the delivering physician is covering for, or is a member of, the same group practice as the primary attending of record. The “delivery-only” codes should be reported when 1) an unaffiliated physician has delivered the baby but will not be providing any outpatient postpartum care or 2) the payer has specified this method of billing for the covering or affiliated provider.
CPT has clarified that delivery-only codes (59409, 59514, or 59612, 59620) include admission to the hospital, the admission history and physical exam, uncomplicated labor and delivery (including delivery of the placenta, or use of forceps or vacuum extraction). These codes do not include inpatient rounding or discharge day care after delivery (and, of course, include no outpatient postpartum care). When, as the delivering physician, you also provide inpatient postdelivery care, therefore, you may additionally bill subsequent hospital care codes and discharge day management codes (99231-99233, 99238-99239).
If the unaffiliated physician performs the delivery and also intends on providing outpatient postpartum care, the CPT codes for delivery with postpartum are to be reported (59410, 59515, 59614, 59622). In addition to the delivery, these codes include all inpatient and outpatient postpartum care. And finally, for those physicians who are only providing outpatient postpartum care, the code 59430, Postpartum care only, should be reported.
PLACENTAL ALPHA MICROGLOBULIN-1
A new code, 84112 (Placental alpha microglobulin-1 [PAMG-11], cervicovaginal secretion, qualitative), has been added to allow the clinical laboratory to bill for this immunoassay that detects amniotic fluid in the secretions. Physician work involves collection of the specimen but, under CPT rules, collection is included as part of any E/M service.
Note: An existing code for this test that is used by Blue Cross/Blue Shield payers (S3628) remains valid in 2011.
HPV VACCINE COUNSELING
Before January 1, 2011, if you counseled a patient about the HPV vaccine, you could report preventive counseling codes, such as 99401–99404, in addition to the vaccine administration code, 90471 (Immunization administration, 1 vaccine). Now, however, you have a new code for counseling and vaccine administration for a patient who is younger than 19 years—the age group most likely to be counseled about this vaccine. When you see, and counsel, such a patient before administering the vaccine, on the same date of service, code 90460 (Immunization administration through 18 years of age via any route of administration, with counseling by physician or other qualified health care profession; first vaccine/toxoid component), and 90649 for the quadrivalent or 90650 for the bivalent HPV vaccine.
If your patient is 19 years or older and requires counseling, continue to bill 99401– 99404 for counseling, with 90471 for immunization and 90649 or 90650 for the vaccine. Keep in mind: Whether you report 90460 or the 9940X codes, you are required to document the content of the counseling. Codes 9940X also require documentation of the duration of counseling.
New codes have been established for the flu vaccine, but you won’t be using them: They are intended to address future pandemic strains of influenza. This year’s vaccine contains the H1N1 strain, but is coded as the normal seasonal flu vaccine, based on the type given:
90658 (split virus)
90662 (enhanced vaccine for patients older than 65 years).
Changes to Medicare billing
Some of the coding and billing changes this year that have an impact on ObGyn practice come from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act calls for a reduction in the maximum time period for submission of Medicare fee-for-service claims. Before January 1, a provider had 15 to 27 months to submit first-time claims to Medicare. Now, these claims must be filed within a calendar year of the date of service. Exceptions can be made for retroactive entitlement or in situations in which there is a secondary payer.
PAYMENTS TO CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIVES
Next, more good news—if you employ a certified nurse midwife (CNM) in your practice. Before January 1, Medicare reimbursed direct billing from a CNM at only 65% of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. Now, a CNM is paid the same as a physician when she (he) bills under her own number.
In the past, some practices billed for the services of a CNM under “incident to” rules, to capture the physician payment—but this also meant that the CNM could not see a new patient. Under the change I’m describing, all CNMs can bill Medicare directly; see new patients; and be paid the same as the physician is paid. In addition, CNMs are no longer required to be supervised by a physician when they perform diagnostic tests that fall under the scope of their practice.
ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT
The Affordable Care Act extended preventive coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in the form of an annual wellness visit. The two new codes here have been valued based on a level 4-problem new and established E/M service: