Posts Tagged CMS

Fee for Counseling Service — another CPT code

cptwowWow, you could have had a CPT code and $60.  While fee-for-service is widely excoriated for excessive cost what is CMS doing?  They want primary care providers or someone to have another fee-for-service.  The fee is for “counseling” about lung cancer CT screening and “counseling” about weight loss.  Both things that are currently part of an office visit with no additional CPT code — just good patient care.

Both topics could easily be covered on YouTube in several languages but NO — lets do this the old fashioned way and spend a zillion dollars for each provider to reinvent the discussion each time.   CMS:  don’t be so lazy — make the patient education video and tell primary care providers the URL!  And, update the video every 6 months.

The bottom line:

  • Lung Cancer CT Screening:
    • Don’t do it if the patient can’t have surgery
    • Don’t do it until the patient has 30 pk yrs accumulated (number of packs per day times number of years)
    • Don’t do it if the patient is less than 55 or over 80 years old.
    • Don’t do it if the patient quit smoking more than 15 years ago.
  • Weight-loss counseling:
    • Say in a loud voice “you weigh too much” then say “eat less”.  (that was not so hard!)
    • Doctors have been doing this for decades without sustained  results.
    • There are 20,000 books about diets to loose weight without sustained results.
    • This is not going to work — at least be honest.

Follow the money:  

Counseling fees for CT scans is an incentive to do the CT scans.   The primary care provider makes money, the x-ray office makes money and the radiologist makes money.  A better idea is to have the radiology office pay the primary care provider for the counseling out of CT revenue so this is a no-sum-gain.  Better yet — make it a provided service under an ACO plan!

Counseling fees for intensive weight-loss is an incentive for lots of repeat visits or a referral.  The Primary care provider makes money (and changes from a primary care provider to a specialty provider).  The incentive reduces the pool of available visits for primary care with little if any benefit to the vast majority of obese people.  A better idea is not to add another CPT code.  If the patient needs more time — make another appointment!

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Penalty for Failure to use EMR — CMS doing the right thing for patients

scoffing

Physicians scoff at rules requiring them to use electronic records and now they must pay the penalty.

Melinda Beck reported in the Wall Street Journal 12/18/14 “Medicare to Cut Payments to Some Doctors, Hospitals”.  Of the 893,851 physicians in the US, Ms. Beck reports 257,000 will be fined 1% of their Medicare fees for failure to adequately use an electronic medical record.

For example, the technically challenged doctors have failed to use electronic prescriptions, favoring instead marginally-legible  hand-written prescriptions.  And, they undoubtedly harmed patients by not taking advantage of allergy and interaction checks that are part of electronic prescribing.

AMA president-elect Steven J. Stack is reported as saying he was “appalled” by the government action.  Every physician, obviously excluding Mr. Stack, was informed 5 years ago that fines would be imposed in 2014 by Medicare if physicians that bill Medicare fail to use electronic records in a meaningful way.

Why would a rational physician choose not to use an electronic record…?

  • Because North Korea might hack the system
  • Because the government told them to use an EMR (they give orders, not take them)
  • Because they will be retiring soon and won’t need to learn about computers (the real reason)
  • Because they will need to pay for a system to help patients
  • Because young physicians want the systems, older physicians say no to all this newfangled stuff.
  • Because a an electronic record might be used in court against them.

There you have it — a detailed explanation.  Appalling, don’t you agree?

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