As I stated in a previous posting here, I have a long-standing interest in Russian literature. Developing a love of the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky requires a large amount of free time as well as a hearty concentration level. Yet possessing both of these things does not remove oneself from the fact that War & Peace, owing to its size, works better as a doorstop than most bricks.
Which brings me to the Final Rule for the 2010 Part B Physician Fee Schedule. Weighing in at 1,669 pages, it was a lot to take in. Unfortunately for me, unlike War & Peace, there is no corresponding movie to simplify and edit its contents, yet onward I plunged. Many of the changes were specific to services and specialties, but there were a few things that jumped out at me that I’d like to share with you.
Beginning on January 1, 2010, consultation codes (99241-99245 for office/outpatient, 99251-99255 for inpatient) will no longer be reimbursed by Medicare Part B. In the preamble to this portion of the Final Rule, CMS decided that after many years of attempts at education and clarification of the rules for consultations, there remained mass confusion as to the rules regarding consultation vs. transfer of care, as well as widespread documentation deficiencies and problems with consultation code selection.
To make up for the loss of revenue for consultation codes, There will be a 6% increase in the RVU value on outpatient E/M services (99201-99205 for new patients, 99211-99215 for established patients). Going forward, in the office environment, rather than considering a consultation code for patients referred to their practice from another provider. the physician need only choose an E/M code based on whether the patient has been seen within three years of the service date.
Selecting hospital services in the absence of consultation codes will be a little trickier. CPT codes 99221-99223, which in the past have been used solely by the admitting physician, will now be used by all physicians upon their first encounter with the patient. In order to differentiate from the admitting physician and other physicians providing care to the patient, the admitting provider will be required to add a modifier to his service signifying that he/she is the admitting physician. The modifier to be used was not indicated in the Final Rule, but should reveal itself upon release of the 2010 HCPCS.
One specialty reduction of interest affects chiropractic services (CPT codes 98940-98942). These codes will be subject to a 2% reduction beginning in January.
For advanced imaging services such as nuclear imaging, CMS is now requiring that facilities providing the technical component for these services meet an accreditation standard in order to be reimbursed for these services.
Of course, the biggest adjustment in the Final Rule is the CMS-projected 21.2% pay cut for physician services. As in past years, this cut is expected to be adjusted by Congress prior to the new year.
In any document almost 1,700 pages thick, there is bound to be information that I have left out. For your reading enjoyment, the Final Rule can be found at the following link: