Anesthesia Industry eAlerts
Sent to subscribers every Monday morning, our eAlerts deliver timely updates on regulatory, legislative and practice management developments of interest to anesthesia professionals.
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May 9, 2016
Last week’s e-Alert introduced our readers to the proposed regulations implementing the MACRA Quality Payment Program (Medicare Program; Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM) Incentive under the Physician Fee Schedule, and Criteria for Physician-Focused Payment Models). We focused in Part I on the MIPS pathway, which consolidates Medicare’s current quality, cost and EHR reporting programs and promised an overview of the second major physician payment pathway set forth in the proposed rule, the APM Incentive program.
May 2, 2016
CMS released the proposed regulations implementing MACRA on April 27, 2016. New quality-based payment systems will replace and streamline the PQRS, the value modifier and the meaningful use programs. Physicians will have the opportunity to earn up to a four percent bonus in 2019 based on their participation in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or a five percent bonus for participating in a qualifying Alternative Payment Model.
April 25, 2016
On July 13, 2015, we informed you of CMS’s Two-Midnight Rule. After much pushback from industry stakeholders and from the judicial system since our alert, CMS proposes to eliminate the notorious payment reduction under the Two-Midnight Rule in its FY 2017 Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Proposed Rule (Proposed Rule). Though not slated to be finalized until the latter part of 2016, hospitals and their partners can be optimistic that the penalty under the Two-Midnight Rule may soon be a memory.
April 18, 2016
A new study appearing in Gastroenterology contends that the overall risk of complications after colonoscopy increases when individuals receive anesthesia services. This study should not lead to any restrictive payment changes. Its analysis is flawed and the actual difference between the West, to which is attributed the highest risk, and the Northeast (lowest) is a clinically-insignificant 1.5 percent, as shown here.
April 11, 2016
Many pain medicine procedures, and, increasingly, perioperative and critical care procedures such as central venous access are performed using ultrasound guidance (U/S). Indeed, U/S is an integral part of many CPT® codes, e.g., 20604 [Arthrocentesis, aspiration and/or injection, small joint or bursa, (e.g., fingers, toes), with ultrasound guidance, with permanent recording and reporting]. When and where, and by whom, must those permanent images be stored? What if another entity, such as a hospital, is responsible for storing them? According to Sonosite,
April 4, 2016
If you receive a letter by email that begins like this:
March 28, 2016
The anesthesia record, like medical records in general, should be complete and accurate at the time when the physician signs it—ideally. In practice, it occasionally requires amendment. Given the huge role that accurate documentation plays in our medical payment system, compliance with the rules and regulations governing medical record amendments is important. Altered medical records have great potential for fraud, especially if the added information helps to raise the level of a billable service, and no one should be surprised if auditors look at any changes closely.
March 21, 2016
Recent media coverage of surgeons operating in two concurrent cases raises three issues: (1) patient safety, (2) compliance with the Medicare teaching physician billing rules and (3) transparency vis-à-vis patients.
March 14, 2016
Donald Berwick, MD, senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) (and a former CMS administrator) described nine steps to advance healthcare into “the moral era” at an IHI forum in December, 2015. One of those steps was to “stop excessive measurement.” Dr. Berwick said:
March 7, 2016
The American Pain Society last month released a set of Clinical Practice Guidelines on the Management of Postoperative Pain. The key recommendation in the Guidelines is for greater use of multimodal pain management strategies.
February 29, 2016
“Ransomware” attacks are malicious intrusions into information systems that encrypt the victim’s sensitive data and demand payment in exchange for a key to unlock the data. They have become increasingly common in the last few years. Since January 2013, there have been at least 100,000 cases of recorded ransomware attacks.
February 22, 2016
The Affordable Care Act requires Medicare physicians and others to report and return overpayments within 60 days after the date when an overpayment is identified. Four years after publishing its proposed rule, CMS issued a Final Rule on February 6, 2016 with the intent of providing “needed clarity and consistency for providers and suppliers on the actions they need to take to comply with requirements for reporting and returning of self-identified overpayments.”
February 15, 2016
Being sued by a patient who had a poor outcome is one of the more unpleasant experiences most doctors can contemplate. The impact of a malpractice lawsuit can be potentially devastating to one’s financial, professional and personal well-being. But it is not often that bad. In a survey conducted by Medscape among 4,000 physicians (Peckham C. Medscape Malpractice Report 2015: Top Reasons Doctors Get Sued—Anesthesiologists. January 22, 2016), the responding anesthesiologists reported that trial resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff in only two percent of cases. Another 33 percent were dismissed either by the court or by the plaintiff. Twenty-four percent were dismissed from the suit either before any depositions were taken or within the first few months. Forty-one percent settled before reaching the verdict stage, and 10 percent resulted in a verdict in the anesthesiologist’s favor.
February 8, 2016
One of the biggest takeaways from the ASA Practice Management Conference held in San Diego on January 29-31 was the need for anesthesiologists to start thinking about what the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) will mean for their practices.
February 1, 2016
The Medicare requirement that eligible professionals and hospitals demonstrate “meaningful use” (MU) of electronic health record (EHR) technology has received a lot of attention from provider organizations and in the media recently. Two significant MU developments have occurred in the last few weeks: (1) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) launched a streamlined process for claiming a hardship exemption and (2) CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt stated publicly that the MU program “will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.”
January 25, 2016
There are more nearly 50,000 hospitalists practicing in the U.S. today and the specialty continues to grow rapidly. A recent American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Health Policy Research paper entitled “Prevalence of Hospitalists in U.S. Community Hospitals” found that between 2012 and 2013, 34 out of 50 states showed an increase in the percentage of hospitals using hospitalists and that the percentage of community hospitals using hospitalists increased by almost five percent during that period.
January 19, 2016
Did you know that the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has published a set of examples to guide the accurate use of the Physical Status (PS; P1-P6) modifiers? The ASA House of Delegates approved the examples in October 2014. They appear at http://www.asahq.org/resources/clinical-information/asa-physical-status-classification-system.
January 11, 2016
More than 14 million screening colonoscopies are performed each year. Anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists participate in a large proportion of these procedures. There are several developments that may bring down the numbers or at least slow the rate of growth of screening colonoscopies that our readers, especially those whose practices include a significant volume of anesthesia for colonoscopy services, should note.
January 4, 2016
We begin this new year with a list of the key changes to CPT coding and Medicare payment policies.
December 28, 2015
As we barrel toward the end of 2015, let us stop briefly to consider some predictions for the year ahead in healthcare. Below is a set of ten predictions that appeared in Fortune magazine earlier this month, along with several comments.
December 7, 2015
CMS released the Final Medicare Fee Schedule Rule for 2016 on October 30, 2015. The November 9th issue of F1RSTNews discussed the conversion factors for anesthesia ($22.4426) and for other services ($35.8279) and some of the changes to the measures and registry options for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). The final rule addresses a number of other matters of interest to anesthesiologists and pain physicians. In this issue, we will summarize developments concerning the Value Based Payment Modifier (VM).