CMS Systems Not Ready for All NCDs and LCDs
We may be seeing one of the first latent indicators of the financial impact of ICD-10 with today’s announcement. CMS stated in a November 20th 2015 email that its systems are being updated to accommodate ICD-10 NCDs and LCDs. This also resulted in “temporary” suspensions of payments for LCDs. CMS states, “Claims affected by these edits were temporarily suspended.”
Despite promises from CMS that payments would be processed even if there were deficiencies in how the claims are submitted for Medicare Part B providers, this may be the first significant area where CMS is unable to fulfill that commitment. CMS stated that a permanent fix won’t be ready for about 40 days.
According to an FAQ from CMS published July 6, 2015 and updated September 22, 2015:
“Question 7:National Coverage Determinations (NCD) and Local Coverage Determinations (LCD) often indicate specific diagnosis codes are required. Does the recent Guidance mean the published NCDs and LCDs will be changed to include families of codes rather than specificcodes?Answer 7:No. As stated in the CMS’ Guidance, for 12 months after ICD-10 implementation, Medicare review contractors will not deny physician or other practitioner claims billed under the Part B physician fee schedule through either automated medical review or complex medical record review based solely on the specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis code as long as the physician/practitioner used a valid code from the right family of codes. The Medicare review contractors include the Medicare Administrative Contractors, the Recovery Auditors, the Zone Program Integrity Contractors, and the Supplemental Medical Review Contractor.”
CMS Systems Impacted
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) published clarifications regarding National Coverage Determination (NCD) and Local Coverage Determination (LCD) policies. Medicare national and local coverage policies are translated for the new medical coding standard, International Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10), and to receive payment, providers must bill using ICD-10 codes for services rendered on or after October 1, 2015.
This impacts Medicare Coverage Database (MCD) which contains all NCDs and LCDs, local articles, and proposed NCD decisions. The database also includes several other types of National Coverage policy related documents, including National Coverage Analyses (NCAs), Coding Analyses for Labs (CALs), Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) proceedings, and Medicare coverage guidance documents. The deficiency was reported by Medicare Administrative Contractors.
National Coverage Determinations Require Interim Fix to CMS Systems
CMS stated, “Interim solutions are currently in place to permit appropriate claims payment. In most cases, claims were automatically reprocessed, and no action is required. A permanent systems update will be in place by January 4, 2016.” Information about specific claim types and the reprocessing of claims is available on your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) website.
Local Coverage Determinations and Claim Suspensions
CMS explained in the email that, “… after implementation, some Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) identified LCDs that needed further refinements for ICD-10 diagnosis codes. Claims affected by these edits were temporarily suspended and automatically reprocessed. Curiously, CMS stated, “No action is required. Questions about specific LCDs should be directed to the appropriate MAC.”
Expected Legal and Fiscal Impacts to Health Care Providers
This potentially impacts hundreds of $millions of health care claims. Health care providers should have heeded early industry advice to take out a line of credit as a hedge against revenue disruption. Quasi government entities such as MACs who are fiscal intermediaries as well as Medicare Advantage plans that have a fiduciary duty to manage funds on behalf of the U.S. Government’s HHS and CMS departments will have to evaluate their payment policies. State workers compensation funds, third party liability claims, and State Medicaids may also be impacted.