CMS POSTS CORRECT CODING INITIATIVE EDITS ON INTERNET
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today made it easier for physicians and other providers to bill properly and be paid promptly for their services to people with Medicare coverage. CMS has posted on its Website the automated edits used to identify questionable claims and adjust payments to reflect what would have been paid if the claim had been filed correctly. The edits, known as the National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI), identify pairs of services that normally should not be billed by the same physician for the same patient on the same day. The NCCI also promotes uniformity among the contractors that process Medicare claims in interpreting Medicare payment policies.
The posting of the NCCI is the most recent in a series of steps CMS has taken to use the Internet creatively to reduce the regulatory burden on physicians and make it easier for them to work with Medicare to improve services to beneficiaries. Earlier this summer, CMS added a feature to its Website that makes it possible for physicians to determine in advance what they will be paid for a particular service or range of services. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Look-up provides both the unadjusted payment rates, as well as the payment rates by geographic location.
While the NCCI is one of the cornerstones of CMS’s efforts to ensure that Medicare and beneficiaries do not pay twice for the same service or for duplicative services, CMS believes physicians should have easy access to the edits CMS uses to identify incorrect claims.
The NCCI includes two types of edits. One set– the comprehensive/component edits - identifies code pairs that should not be billed together because one service inherently includes the other. The other – the mutually exclusive edits – identifies code pairs that, for clinical reasons, are unlikely to be performed on the same patient on the same day. For example, a mutually exclusive edit might identify two different types of testing that yield equivalent results.
Until today, the NCCI edits have been available to physicians and other providers on a paid subscription basis, but now they are available to anyone with a personal computer.
The NCCI edits will be posted as a spreadsheet that will allow users to sort by procedural code and by effective date. A "Find" feature will allow users to look for a specific code. The edit files are indexed by procedural code ranges for easy navigation. The new Web page also includes links to documents that explain the edits: the NCCI Policy Manual for Part B Medicare Carriers, Medicare Carriers Manual, and the NCCI Question and Answer page.
CMS developed the NCCI to promote national correct coding by physicians and oth er providers and to ensure appropriate payments for Medicare services. The coding policies developed are based on coding conventions defined in the American Medical Association’s CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) manual, national and local policies and edits, coding guidelines developed by national medical specialty societies, analysis of standard medical and surgical practice and review of current coding practice. The NCCI is updated quarterly.
The NCCI edits are posted at http://cms.hhs.gov/physicians/cciedits/default.asp.
. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Look-up can be found on the Physicians Resource Page, http://cms.hhs.gov/physicians/default.asp.