April 22nd, 2015
The Competitive Bidding Independent Contractor (CBIC) announced the next bidding competition for Round 1 areas in 2017. This next round is to begin once the current Round 1 Recompete contracts expire on December 31, 2016. Round 1 2017 will take place in the same nine Metropolitan Service Areas (MSAs) as the Round 1 Recompete; however, due to changes in the program and zip code updates the nine MSAs now break down into 13 Competitive Bidding Areas. Those CBAs are:
- Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC
- Chester, Lancaster & York Counties, SC
- Cincinnati, OH
- Cleveland-Elyria, OH
- Covington-Florence-Newport, KY
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
- Dearborn-Franklin-Ohio & Union Counties, IN
- Kansas City, MO
- Kansas City-Overland Park-Ottawa, KS
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
- Pittsburg, PA
- Riverside-Bernardino-Ontario, CA
Product categories have also been shuffled in this next competition. The major changes include:
- The addition of Non-Invasive Ventilator HCPCS E0464 as a stand-alone product category.
- TENS units were removed from the General Home Equipment category and established as their own separate bidding category.
- Nebulizers and related supplies and accessories were also broken out from the Respiratory category to stand alone as their own bidding category.
The break out of these products as stand-alone product categories, provides flexibility for suppliers that supply only those products and not the remaining items in the General and Respiratory categories. To view the full list of HCPCS to be bid under this competition click here.
CMS has also established specific rules regarding the Ventilator category as this product will only be bid in a total of eight CBAs:
- Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC
- Chester, Lancaster & York counties, SC
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
- Kansas City-Overland Park-Ottawa, KS
- Kansas City, MO
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
Therefore bidding will not take place for the E0464 in: Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland-Elyria, OH; Covington-Florence-Newport, KY; Dearborn-Franklin-Ohio & Union Counties, IN and Pittsburg, PA.
This next round was announced April 21, 2015, and bidding is projected to begin this fall.
April 15th, 2015
When repairing patient owned equipment, in the event that a repair takes longer than one day to complete, there may be instances when a supplier will need to provide temporary replacement equipment (i.e. loaner equipment). Suppliers commonly struggle with how to bill for this “loaner” or “temporary replacement” equipment while performing repairs. With HCPCS K0462 (temporary replacement equipment) one unit of service is equal to one month of rental. The date of service billed for the loaner equipment must be the date that it is delivered to the patient and must be billed on the same claim as the repairs. Keep in mind that when billing for loaner equipment you must include the following information in the NTE (narrative) segment of the claim:
- Information regarding the patient-owned equipment in the form of a HCPCS code or brand name, model name/number,
- Date of original purchase/delivery of the beneficiary owned equipment,
- A description of the replacement/loaner equipment with the manufacturer brand name and model name or number, and
- A statement of why the replacement/loaner equipment is needed (e.g. repairs to beneficiary owned equipment).
These requirements were mapped out in February 2013 (see that notice here).
Remember that when providing loaner equipment, suppliers may only bill for one month, regardless of how long the patient has the loaner equipment. Additionally, the allowable paid by the DME MAC for that loaner equipment will be based on the lesser of the allowable for either the item/HCPCS the patient owns or the loaner equipment being provided.
For additional guidance on billing for repairs and loaner equipment, register to attend our upcoming educational session entitled “The Ins and Outs of Billing for Repairs”, on May 7, 2015.
April 9th, 2015
In December of 2014, suppliers were alerted that the new national RAC contract for DMEPOS, Home Health and Hospice had been awarded to Connolly, LLC (currently serving as the Jurisdiction C RAC). However, a protest to dispute the contract was filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by the current Jurisdiction A RAC, Performant Recovery Inc. This protest essentially stalled CMS from proceeding with next steps until a decision was reached by the GAO.
While CMS has not directly addressed the status of these bid protests, a search of the GAO bid protest docket shows a total of two bid protests filed by Performant Recovery Inc. The first, B-410999.1 was filed on January 6, 2015 and the second B-410999.2 was filed on February 17, 2015. Both cases have been decided as of February 23, 2015 and are listed with an outcome of dismissed. According to the GAO website, a status of dismissed means that the GAO determined the protest had a technical or procedural flaw (such as lack of timeliness or jurisdiction) or because the agency has taken corrective action that addresses the protest. This status classification likely means that CMS will move forward with the award to Connolly. The other possible statuses are:
- Withdrawn – the protest was removed by the protester
- Denied – the GAO found no merit in the protest, or
- Sustained – the GAO agrees with the argument of the protest.
It is unclear why the protests were dismissed specifically. The GAO website provides little to no information regarding a routine dismissal of a protest. As it stands, we do not have definitive information on next steps. However, we speculate that the contract will proceed with Connolly unless Performant Recovery takes the opportunity to submit another bid protest, if the timeliness of a protest is made viable through the dismissal process. MiraVista will continue to keep you posted as this develops.
(See: http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Monitoring-Programs/Medicare-FFS-Compliance-Programs/Recovery-Audit-Program/Recent_Updates.html & http://www.gao.gov/docket/B-410999.2 & http://www.gao.gov/docket/B-410999.1)
March 26th, 2015
Due to some technical difficulties experienced in the electronic bid system, the CBIC extended the window to submit electronic bids to March 26, 2015 at 8:59 PM Eastern (this evening).
Keep in mind they did not extend the window for delivery of hardcopy documentation which still had be received by the CBIC no later than midnight on March 25th. If your packet was not received by that deadline, it will not be accepted and your bid will be disqualified, even if it is postmarked before the deadline.
For bidders that submitted documentation in time for the Covered Documentation Review process, a notification will be sent by May 21, 2015 either confirming that your packet is complete or to notify you which financial documents were missing from your packet. Bidders will not receive email correspondence regarding receipt of the packet unless it was submitted by the Covered Documentation Review deadline of February 23, 2015.
March 18th, 2015
Executing compliant Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABNs) can be tricky. ABNs are particularly troublesome when you encounter a beneficiary that refuses to sign and accept financial responsibility. In these cases you should generally refuse service to the patient. But what if that is not a viable option? Perhaps the health of the patient would be put in jeopardy if you refuse service or what if the patient already has the equipment and now refuses to sign? In these cases, it may be possible to execute an ABN even if the patient refuses to sign, as long as certain requirements are met.
In order to effectively execute an ABN in instances when the patient refuses to sign, ALL of the following conditions must be met (no exceptions):
- You must accept assignment on the claim.
- Your ABN must include the specific reason(s) the claim is expected to deny.
- The patient must have demanded the service, but still refused to sign the ABN or be held financially liable.
- The patient’s refusal to sign must be witnessed by the notifier (you) and a second party (this can be over the telephone where the second party is called to witness the refusal while you are on-site).
These requirements are outlined by CMS in Chapter 30 of the Claims Processing Manual (http://188.8.131.52/manuals/downloads/clm104c30.pdf); Section 184.108.40.206 discusses Beneficiary Refusal, Section 50.13.2 Discusses the Refund Requirements applicable to DME providers, and Section 150 further details the implementation of the Refund Requirements on DME claims.
If, and only if, the above requirements have been met are you able to proceed. Be sure to include an annotation on the ABN stating that the patient refused to sign or take financial liability, but still demanded service. This should be signed by both the notifier (you) and the second witness. The notation can be included above the empty patient signature line or in the margins of the ABN. When filing your claim, utilize the GA modifier to indicate that the ABN was presented to the patient. If executed properly, Medicare will hold the patient financially liable for the claim.
We recommend that you send a copy of the notice to the beneficiary along with a notice that they will continue to accrue monthly liability on the equipment up until the date the equipment is returned. They may return the equipment at any time to avoid future monthly payments. The customer remains responsible for any monthly payments accrued while the equipment remained in their possession.
March 13th, 2015
The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) has released a new tool to check the status of appeals. The OMHA is the third level of Medicare appeals (Administrative Law Judge). This agency made headlines after announcing a temporary suspension of new ALJ hearing request assignments in July 2013. The announcement came after the agency received a staggering increase in ALJ requests which overwhelmed the agency’s capacity and created a massive backlog. Since the announcement, the OMHA has deployed a number of efforts to tackle the backlog including launching new technological initiatives such as the ALJ Appeal Status Information System (AASIS) search tool.
AASIS allows suppliers that have submitted a request for hearing to enter either the ALJ Appeal Number from the Acknowledgement Letter/ Notice of Hearing OR the Medicare Appeal Number (Reconsideration) from the decision letter to search for the status of that request. Suppliers can enter up to 10 Appeal Numbers at once. The status indicators are: Received, Assigned, Deliberation, and Decided. Additionally, there are two other indicators when an appeal has been combined with another request or when it has been reopened. The search results will include the status of the appeal, the date it was received, and additional information if the appeal has been assigned (such as hearing date, hearing office and the name of the presiding judge). The results also include a section of notes describing the status of the appeal.
While this can be a very helpful tool for suppliers it is important to note that the backlog still exists. Because of the volume of requests being submitted, suppliers should not expect to see a status for 16 weeks after the request has been mailed. AASIS is updated weekly and the inquiry page will report the date of the last update. If your appeal has been decided on or otherwise closed more than 180 days, a status will not be available in the AASIS system. If you find that the number you enter is not returning results but meets the criteria outlined above, then you can contact the OMHA Appeal Status Hotline at 855-556-8475 and a representative can provide you with the status.
To utilize this tool, click on this link: http://aasis.omha.hhs.gov/.
March 6th, 2015
Andrea Stark talks with HME News correspondent Anna McDevitt about the Face-to-Face rule in this exclusive interview. The Face-to-Face (FTF) rule affects a total of 166 HCPCS and requires that a physician document the face-to-face encounter with the beneficiary and sign off on evaluations performed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants or clinical nurse specialists. The evaluation of the beneficiary must have taken place within the six months prior to the detailed written order. Additional requirements handed down for those 166 codes disqualify the use of verbal orders to dispense equipment and instead subject these HCPCS to the detailed written order prior to delivery (WOPD) requirements as outlined in the Program Integrity Manual. These provisions are broken into two phases of implementation: Phase 1 – the requirement for the detailed written order prior to delivery and Phase II- the requirement for the face-to-face notes to be the supplier’s possession prior to delivery. Phase I began enforcement January 1, 2014, and we currently have an undetermined delay in enforcement of Phase II.
Andrea will be partnering with Healthcare Attorney Jeff Baird and Liz Beaulieu of HME News to discuss the newest developments in the Face-to-Face in the March 11th webcast “A Look Ahead: Legal and Reimbursement Headliners and Guidance for 2015”, click here for additional details on this event. Despite the delay in enforcement of Phase II, Andrea Stark recommends an early adoption approach to this rule as discussed in her interview. Click on the image below to view:
March 3rd, 2015
As a general rule, Medicare expects that Advanced Beneficiary Notices (ABNs) will be issued in-person. However, there are exception protocols for delivery “other than in-person” prescribed in Chapter 30 of the Claims Processing Manual 50.7.2 – Options for Delivery Other Than In Person.(http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Manuals/downloads/clm104c30.pdf)
Per the CMS manual, ABNs can be issued via mail, telephone and even via email, BUT the linchpin is that the delivery cannot be disputed by the beneficiary to be considered valid. Having a system that enables you to affirmatively document the notification (and avoid dispute) is the most important component of this protocol. Utilization of tracking mechanisms and/or requiring signature confirmation for mailed notices, delivery confirmation receipts for emailed notices, and recordings of phone conversations can all be reliable tools where appropriate. (Just be mindful that you do this in accordance with state and federal laws as you do not want to run awry of wiretapping regulations). However, independent data collection will lessen the likelihood that your patient will successfully dispute the delivery of the ABN.
Beyond the delivery of the ABN, the CMS guidance further instructs suppliers to make follow-up attempts to collect a beneficiary signature on the ABN. These follow-up attempts need to also be documented as part of this protocol. While not required, we also recommend including a notification that they are responsible for the equipment as long as it remains in their possession; however, if they do not wish to continue accruing future monthly liabilities, they may arrange to return the equipment to avoid any new charges.
When these protocols are followed, the GA modifier should be added to claims for billing purposes once the delivery of information is confirmed (where knowledge is viably transferred and the customer is considered in possession of the information). Always maintain the documentation of both the initial delivery and follow-up attempts at collecting a signature in the patient’s file should the DME MAC request it. If theses protocols are followed you are not required to have a signed ABN to invoke the protections; however, this protocol is not effective and does not offer protections in scenarios where a supplier cannot confirm the equipment is in use, or cannot make identified contact with the beneficiary. Ultimately, in order to benefit from the ABN protections, the supplier must satisfy the burden of “informing the beneficiary” of their financial responsibility in terms that the patient can understand.
For more details about ABN protections and proper use of the ABN, please join us for an in-depth webinar: “Unraveling the Mystery of the Advance Beneficiary Notice: Harness the Protections and Profit Generating Potential of this Multi-Faceted Form” to be hosted on April 28.
February 20th, 2015
CMS released an update to the Standardized Documentation Language template in October of 2014. This template is used to populate the Documentation section of the Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs). The template was first implemented in February of 2012 to bring uniformity and consistency to the LCDs.
Most of the changes in the October update stem from previously posted clarifications and updates released by the DME MACs primarily related to the Face-to-Face rule. By periodically incorporating the updates into the LCD they ensure that providers can rely more heavily and consistently on the one-stop shop known as the LCD and policy article. However, there was a significant change to the documentation requirements for Proof of Delivery in instances where equipment is retained from a prior payer (the patient switches to Medicare for the first time).
CMS has always educated that at the time of transition, it is the supplier’s responsibility to evaluate the coverage criteria to determine the beneficiary meets Medicare guidelines. It is also expected the supplier will secure an updated proof of delivery document and simultaneously determine that the equipment is in operational order and should last the patient five years from the date they enter the Medicare program. In this update, however, CMS takes this assessment to a whole new level. Suppliers now have the option to obtain an attestation statement from the beneficiary (or their designee) that stipulates the supplier has examined the equipment, it is in good working order, and meets Medicare requirements.
The directive stipulates, “For the purposes of reasonable useful lifetime and calculation of continuous use, the first day of the first rental month in which Medicare payments are made for the item (i.e., date of service) serves as the start date of the reasonable useful lifetime and period of continuous use. In these cases, the proof of delivery documentation serves as evidence that the beneficiary is already in possession of the item.”
These changes will be incorporated into future LCDs and policy article revisions, which we will likely see published over the course of the upcoming months. To see the CGS notice including the full text of the updated language click here.
February 13th, 2015
If you are a provider participating in the Round 2 or National Mail Order Recompete programs for Competitive Bidding contracts, and you have not yet registered, time is running out. The Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor (CBIC) will close the registration window on Tuesday, February 17, 2015. Suppliers that have not yet registered (and wish to participate in bidding) will need to have the Authorized Official for the business establish an account via the CMS IACS system by 9pm EST on February 17, 2015. Registration in the IACS system is required to obtain a user ID and password for the electronic bidding system DBidS. If you miss the registration deadline, you will not be able to submit a bid. Registering for an account provides you with the most flexibility, but does not obligate you to formally submit a bid. If you are undecided, it is best to secure your access immediately.
As a recap, the following product categories are up for bid in Round 2:
- Enteral Nutrition, Equipment and Supplies
- General Home Equipment and Related Supplies and Accessories
- includes hospital beds and related accessories, group 1 and 2 support surfaces, commode chairs, patient lifts, and seat lifts
- Nebulizers and Related Supplies
- Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) Pumps and Related Supplies and Accessories
- Respiratory Equipment and Related Supplies and Accessories
- includes oxygen, oxygen equipment, and supplies; continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices and respiratory assist devices (RADs) and related supplies and accessories
- Standard Mobility Equipment and Related Accessories
- includes walkers, standard power and manual wheelchairs, scooters, and related accessories
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Devices and Supplies
The National Mail Order contracts to supply mail order diabetic supplies are being recompeted on the same timeline. The covered documentation review deadline is February 23, 2015. Suppliers that wish to have their required documentation packets reviewed for missing documentation must have that in by February 23rd. The bid window, however, will remain open until March 25, 2015. See the latest edition of VistaNotes (Volume 6 Issue 6, available for purchase on our products page) for a condensed, but comprehensive, bidding guide for suppliers.