Medical Billing Expert Witness
Finding the right medical billing expert witness requires care and diligence. Once you have found a potential expert witness, ensure that you are assessing these factors:
- The Medical Billing Expert Witness understands how to deal with complexity.
- To clarify, the Expert must possess confidence in providing oral and written testimony for depositions, expert reports, and trial. Depending on the facts being in litigation, this may include the value of medical care.
- If applicable, make certain that your expert witness candidate you found has a solid methodology to opine regarding Usual customary and reasonable (UCR) costs for care starts with an evaluation of the clinical documentation and coding.
Finding a Medical Billing Expert Witness
Furthermore, I recommend that you find an expert witness who can discuss both national charges and charges adjusted for regional market medical billing. For example, the use of geographic adjustment factors (GAFs) to opine on market charges. As a result, collateral source rules in various states may also be a factor.
Usual Customary and Reasonable (UCR) charge rates for medical billing and market definitions.
On the other hand, in many jurisdictions, there are collateral source rules that apply in personal injury cases. This means that the charge without considering insurance is the method to determine UCR of medical care. On the other hand, if insurance coverage is a factor the patient diagnosis and prior authorization may be a component of the medical billing expert’s work.
Type of Litigation and Expert Scope – Find a Versatile Expert Witness in Medical Billing
That is to say, if requested by counsel and allowed by the Court experts may consider other factors. These may vary and depend upon the jurisdiction and type of case. To elaborate, types of case types include personal injury, malpractice, payor provider dispute, provider billing company dispute, fraud, etc. it may be necessary to either consider insurance payments or maximum out of pocket (OOPM) costs to a plaintiff.
Selected Types of Medical Billing Codes
In addition, a competent medical billing expert witness should have a strong understanding of medical coding. Furthermore, medical coding expert witness comprehends each of the Industry Standard by place of service and clinical context:
- CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology is copyright American Medical Association). A CPT is for outpatient procedures and physician billing (see DRG codes). The CPT codes for physician professional fees, and coding expert witness and physician billing expert
- CDT codes for dental care and procedures
- ICD-9 codes for diagnosis medical coding expert and inpatient procedure billing expert
- ICD-10 CM codes for diagnosis codes in all care settings, and ICD-10 PCS procedure codes for inpatient procedures
Modifiers and Place of Service Codes
- Use of Modifiers with CPT codes. For example, a medical coding expert should understand that a modifier may indicate the professional fee or professional component (PC) interpretation of a diagnostic image. Consequently, the balance of the bill is then the technical fee or technical component (TC) and does not include this modifier. Global fees include both PC and TC. Global billing may or may not apply.
- Place of service (POS) codes which indicate the care setting such as physician office, Ambulatory Surgery Center, hospital, lab, etc.
Selected Bundled, Packaged, and Episodic Codes for Inpatient Hospitals and Outpatient Ambulatory Surgery Centers
For example, a medical coding expert witness should understand:
The use of DRG codes (diagnosis-related groupings) in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) applies in hospital stays beyond 24 hours. The hospital facility bills DRGs, the physician’s bill uses CPT codes.
APC (ambulatory procedure codes) apply in bundling services into packages. Importantly, Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) use APCs. ASCs are CMS certified facilities authorized to perform certain surgical lower risk non-hospital procedures. ASCs must be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). As a result, ASCs require higher capital investments to meet this certification. As such, CMS certification entitles ASCs to charge facility fees for certain approved procedures. Importantly, APCs contemplate a facility fee along with a bundle of procedures.
Home Health Care Episodic Grouping Codes
Home Health Agencies (HHAs) complete the Outcomes and Assessment Information Set. This is often called an OASIS assessment.
HHAs use OASIS assessments (Outcome and Assessment Information Set) to evaluate episodic eligibility of patients for home health care
As a result, the assessment groups the episode into one of 153 Home Health Resource Groups (HHRGs)
Other Factors in Medical Billing include RVUs, OPPS, Geographic Location, and Wage Indices and Analytics
Relative value units (RVUs) in diagnostic imaging or the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS)
Geographic charge variation based on Geographic Adjustment Factors and wage Indices
Damages Analysis and Medical Billing
Qualified medical billing experts may perform damages analysis. This requires understanding error rates and sample sizes, as well as being able to articulate methods to use computer and software data analytics and methodologies. This may include data normalization to standardize data from various sources into meaningful summaries.
Medically Necessary Care and Insurance Factors
As a result, when insurance is considered, the value of procedures may be different. This may apply in commercial health insurance or Medicare fraud cases. Additionally, it may apply in disputes between payors and providers in damages analysis.
Consequently, Medical necessity may be a factor. To clarify, this can include Medicare National Coverage Determinations Local Coverage Determinations. These are sometimes referred to as NCDs and LCDs. Guidance from Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) may be factors.
In addition, health care claims processes impact billing when insurance is considered. Explanation of Benefits explains the difference between medical billing and covered services. EOBs may have adjustments codes that are useful. To elaborate, Adjustment Codes may provide insight into health insurance policies and coverage determinations.
Furthermore, inpatient procedures under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) for medical billing and medical coding expert
An Outpatient procedure under the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) for medical billing and as a component of understanding for the medical coding expert witness.
Fee for Service vs. Capitated Models
Historically a large percentage of medical care was compensated based on a fee for the service provided. This is commonly called Fee for Service (FFS) medicine. In the past two decades, business model innovations and value-based care experiments have created capitated risk models. To elaborate, capitation means that physicians are paid a set monthly fee to care for each patient. The physician (or facility) takes the risk and pays for any higher cost procedures out of its own pocket. Importantly, this is in contrast to FFS and seeking a higher reimbursement for the care of the individual patient from insurance.
Consequently, part of the underlying assumption is that with a large population, the capitated monthly cost covers the downside risk. This model is not perfect. This is because of the unknown future cost for a single patient with higher acuity conditions (the ‘sicker’ patient) in catastrophic cases. To elaborate, in this capitated model, a risk adjustment method sets the monthly payment based on the patient’s condition.
Furthermore, a medical coding expert witness with flexibility should understand risk adjustment coding. Capitated, Risk-Adjusted Models use HCCs or Hierarchical condition category codes. HCCs apply in a special type of managed Medicare called Medicare Advantage (or, Medicare Part C). Furthermore, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) may use capitated models of payment
Case Law and Expert Scope of Work, Opinions, and Testimony
For instance, a competent expert must be capable of understanding state and federal statutes, guidelines and industry best practices in these areas to support their opinions. In California for example, The California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District (Sacramento), issued an opinion in Uspenskaya v. Meline (Oct. 28, 2015, C071647) ___ Cal.App.4th ___analyzing whether the amounts a medical provider accepts from a medical finance company are admissible as evidence of the reasonable value of the service. To elaborate, Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded evidence regarding a third party’s payment to medical providers for a lien in the lawsuit.
To clarify, this brief discussion is not by any means an exhaustive list of case law in California. Nor does it address Federal case law or other state laws or the U.S. Several cases focus on insurance as a collateral source to evaluate the cost of care and when it applies. Furthermore, some states use percentage factors. The scope of medical coding expert testimony requested by retaining counsel is also important to consider.
A U.S. District Judge Denies Motion to Exclude Michael Arrigo. In his ruling, the Judge discusses Arrigo’s qualifications as a medical billing expert, a medical coding expert, a Medicare fraud expert, a Medicare damages expert and his expertise in electronic health records. Read Ruling published in Westlaw.