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Practice Information

December 2020 updates


STARK LAW REVISION: The law prohibiting Medicare self-referral was passed in 1989. As CMS has begun to realize the role of value-based payments, they became keenly aware certain arrangements that were previously prohibited could lead to improved quality outcomes, improved health system efficiencies, and lower costs. Details of this new role will become increasingly clear over the next few weeks but it is hopeful that demonstrating quality, cost-effective care will finally be rewarded as opposed to punished.

As many of you are aware, First Coast Service Options, which is the Medicare carrier for Florida, has joined with Novitas under a single parent company.  It is expected that they will have similar if not identical coverage policies in the near future. New LCDs for FFR-CT and for non-invasive testing for stable ischemic heart disease are being developed. Although they’re developed by regional Medicare carriers, it is assumed that the chosen LCD will eventually serve as an NCD applicable to our patients with standard fee for service Medicare. A final coverage policy for FFR CT is being developed. The American College of Cardiology has recently submitted suggestions for expanding coverage.

Novitas is proposing an LCD on testing for stable ischemic heart disease. Cardiac PET is covered for perfusion but there is no specific mention of myocardial blood flow. FDG imaging for cardiac sarcoidosis is covered only if the patients are unable to carry out cardiac MRI. Serial testing in a stable asymptomatic patient is not considered appropriate for coverage. All stress modalities are considered equal. Therefore, it should clear the way for a clinician to choose the best test is for his/her patient. My concern is this may lead to test substitution. Again, our national ACC is very much involved in this.

First Coast is now requiring dual diagnosis for cardiac stress test time. This is leading to significant denials. Although most claims are paid on first or second appeal, it can take up to 120 days or more for payment. Obviously, this is unacceptable. National and state chapters and subspecialty organizations are all working on this together. For more information please review: https://medicare.fcso.com/Cardiology/0469513.asp.


United Health Care appears to be encouraging the use of coronary CTA and FFR-CT preferentially functional imaging (MPI, stress echo, stress CMR) in patients who are loaded intermediate risk they apply that most functional imaging will no longer be required in the future. There is significant industry support behind this initiative including an industry supported white paper that was published in JACC. The FCACC is working with national ACC to ensure the patient receives the right test at the right time when the physician completes the appropriate use criterion.

Humana has declared cardiac PET-CT an experimental procedure and is refusing coverage. All dedicated standalone PET cameras require CT attenuation and thus must carry out a CT scan for attenuation correction. This is clearly different from a hybrid diagnostic CT. Florida ACC is working with ASNC, SNMMI and national ACC in an attempt to resolve this critical reimbursement issue.

On the good news front BCBS of Florida is covering coronary CTA for intermediate preclinical risk ages 40-75. For details consult the following: http://mcgs.bcbsfl.com/MCG?activity=openSearchedDocMcg&imgId=75S7UABPY9FVM4CMREP


Medicare uses a variety of mechanisms to set policies for coverage of services. At the national level, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may issue a National Coverage Determination (NCD). Medicare administrative contractors (MAC) may issue Local Coverage Determinations (LCDs) or may choose to cover services or therapies on a case-by-case basis. If an NCD or LCD does not exist, it does not simply mean that Medicare will not pay for the service.

When national coverage has not been specified in NCD, MACs may choose to provide coverage for a service through an LCD. An LCD may be written in a manner that provides broad coverage, coverage with certain restrictions, or non-coverage. MACs develop LCDs through a process that is less formal than that used to develop an NCD. That process includes expert feedback from designated physician representatives. In Florida these include our CAC Representatives listed about who attend three formal meetings per year and consult with our carrier, First Coast Service Options.

Additional Tools for Practices
This tool provides current and draft local coverage determinations (LCDs), when they exist, for Medicare-covered procedure codes. Not every procedure code is covered by an LCD. For previous versions of an LCD, refer to the CMS Medicare coverage database. Click here for the tool.

Heart House has developed a network of CAC representatives from across the nation that meet as a group to review trends and analyze issues. The chair of the Third Party Reimbursement Committee is active at the national level through meetings and constant communication with colleagues.

National ACC has a web portal dedicated to practice issues. See this link for in-depth issues."Do Your PART" to Improve the Prior Authorization Process 

Payer-directed prior authorization for diagnostic imaging and medications is a tremendous barrier to patient care in today's cardiovascular care landscape. Help the ACC improve the prior authorization process by expanding the current data collection of inappropriate denials and difficult cases. ACC members and their staff are encouraged to submit instances of incorrect prior authorization denials for cardiac procedures and PCSK9 prescription through ACC's Prior Authorization Tool (PARTool) suite. Robust data collection is the first step to identifying and correcting exhaustive administrative burdens. Do your PART to improve the prior authorization.
Submit your data at ACC.org/PARTool today!


MedAxiom Webinar: MIPS Tips For Success: Preparing For Episodic Payments

MIPS has taken a back seat in many practices – not only due to COVID-19 but also because of a perception that physicians have no control over the results, especially in multispecialty group. Join MedAxiom for a webinar on Tuesday, March 23, from 1 – 2 p.m. ET and review well-known MIPS categories. Experts will cover the first two elements of cost (MSPB and TPCC), how they are calculated and how clinicians can impact the measures. Register here to learn the best ways to interpret these reports and prepare for episodic payments.

PINNACLE Registry, Diabetes Collaborative Registry Approved as QCDR For 2021 MIPS Program Year

With the continued success of the Veradigm and ACC partnership, the PINNACLE Registry and the Diabetes Collaborative Registry have been approved as a single Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) for the 2021 Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Program Year, offering participating practices a free and easy solution to report MIPS data in 2021. Practices currently submitting data via the PINNACLE Registry and/or the Diabetes Collaborative Registry can choose to have the registries submit MIPS data to CMS on their behalf for free. Learn more.

FDA Announces Recall and Product Discontinuation of Boston Scientific LOTUS Edge™ Aortic Valve System

The FDA has announced a global, voluntary recall of all unused inventory of the Boston Scientific LOTUS Edge™ Aortic Valve System due to “complexities associated with the product delivery system.” No safety issues are of concern for patients who currently have an implanted LOTUS Edge valve. Read more

Importance of Proper Documentation: Provider Minute Video 

Why is proper documentation important to you and your patients? Find out how it affects items and services, claim payment and medical review in a new Provider Minute: The Importance of Proper Documentation video from CMS. Watch and learn about the top five documentation errors, how to submit documentation for a comprehensive error rate testing review, and how Medicare administrative contractors can help.

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