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CMA recoups $29 million on behalf of physician members

California physicians have a powerful ally when it comes to dealing with problematic payors—the California Medical Association (CMA) Center for Economic Services (CES). Staffed by practice management experts with a combined experience of more than 125 years in medical practice operations, the CES team has recovered $29 million from payors on behalf of its physician members over the past 10 years. In 2018, CES had a record year, recovering nearly $11 million from payors on behalf of physician members, up from $3 million in 2017. This is money that would ...

Coding Corner: Separate reporting of pre-intra- and post-procedure work

“Coding Corner” focuses on coding, compliance, and documentation issues relating specifically to physician billing. This month’s tip comes from G. John Verhovshek, the managing editor for AAPC, a training and credentialing association for the business side of health care. The global surgical package includes all “necessary services normally furnished” by a provider “before, during, and after a procedure,” as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS). When a provider is responsible for only a portion of the global package (e.g., an emergency department physician initiates fracture care, ...

Some Medi-Cal managed care plans slow to distribute Prop 56 funds

In May, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) distributed the Proposition 56 supplemental funds for FY 2017-2018 to the Medi-Cal managed care plans. At the California Medical Association’s request, DHCS specified that plans must distribute the funds to providers within 90 days. However, the 90-day window ended August 31 and CMA has received complaints from physicians that some plans have still not issued supplemental payments. The supplemental payments are a result of the California Health Care, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 (Prop 56), which created ...

What you need to know about Blue Shield of California's Care1st integration

On January 1, 2019, Blue Shield of California will complete the integration of Care1st Health Plan into its operations, and Care1st’s name will change to Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan. The newly renamed health plan will remain a separate company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Shield of California. Care1st physicians serving Medicare Advantage HMO, Medi-Cal or Cal MediConnect members will not need to contract with Blue Shield of California to continue providing services, and participating physicians will receive a mailed contract amendment later this year that ...

CMA proposes site-neutral payments for some physician services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed eliminating the Medicare site of service payment differential for physician services. Under the proposed policy, Medicare would pay the same amount for office visit services provided by physicians in “off-campus” hospital outpatient departments as it would for the same office visit service provided in a physician’s office. Currently, Medicare pays a “facility fee” that results in a much higher rate for the same service when performed in outpatient clinics owned by hospitals, rather than in a physician’s office. For example, ...

CMA pushes back on CMS' proposed Medicare payment changes

The California Medical Association (CMA) recently submitted comprehensive comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the proposed 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and MACRA Quality Payment Program rule. CMA is supporting CMS’s proposal to substantially reduce the Evaluation and Management (E/M) documentation requirements because it would reduce note bloat, improve workflow, and allow physicians to devote more time to their patients. However, CMA is strongly opposed to the proposal to restructure payment and coding for (E/M) office visits by collapsing the codes from five to two for ...

Coding Corner: CPT reporting for preventive medicine services

CPR’s “Coding Corner” focuses on coding, compliance, and documentation issues relating specifically to physician billing. This month’s tip comes from John Verhovshek, the managing editor for AAPC, a training and credentialing association for the business side of health care. Preventive medicine services, or “well visits,” are evaluation and management (E/M) services provided to a patient without a chief complaint. The reason for the visit is not an illness or injury (or signs or symptoms of an illness or injury), but rather to evaluate the patient’s overall health, and to identify ...

DHCS receives approval on Medi-Cal supplemental tobacco tax payments for FY 2018-2019

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently received federal approval on its plan to increase Medi-Cal fee-for-service physician payments for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The supplemental payments—made possible by the Proposition 56 tobacco tax funding—will raise payments for a total of 23 CPT codes, including 10 new preventive CPT codes. DHCS will be increasing the supplemental payment for the previously eligible CPT codes to 85 percent of Medicare (a 40 percent average increase in payments for these eligible codes compared with 2017 – 2018 payment levels). The 10 ...

Have you received your supplemental Medi-Cal managed care payments?

The California Health Care, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016 (Prop 56) created new revenues dedicated to the Medi-Cal program. Physicians receive supplemental payments in both fee-for-service and Medi-Cal managed care when providing Medi-Cal services under certain CPT codes.  While the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) began disbursing FY 2017-2018 supplemental fee-for-service payments in January 2018, federal approval of the supplemental Medi-Cal managed care payments was delayed. This resulted in delayed payment for Medi-Cal managed care services. DHCS began dispersing the FY 2017-2018 funds to the plans ...

Coding Corner: ICD-10 unveils new diagnostic codes to report human trafficking

CPR’s “Coding Corner” focuses on coding, compliance, and documentation issues relating specifically to physician billing. This month’s tip comes from Brad Ericson, the director of publishing for AAPC, a training and credentialing association for the business side of health care. Effective for fiscal year 2019, ICD-10 will include new diagnostic codes to report confirmed and suspected cases of human trafficking. Additionally, new codes will be available for patient history of labor or sexual exploitation, encounters for examination and observation following sexual or labor exploitation, and to identify multiple perpetrators of ...