Specimen Collection Travel Allowance Goes Up

Clinical laboratories submitting claims for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries are in for a bit of a pay raise this year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has revised the Medicare 2009 travel allowance fees for specimen collection.

Paid under the Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule, Medicare Part B covers the estimated travel costs for specimen collection (including the laboratory technician’s salary and travel expenses) on a flat-rate or per mile basis when a specimen collection fee is also payable.

Some Medicare contractors have established local policy to pay based on a flat-rate trip basis only. Remember to check your local Medicare contractor’s payment policy before submitting claims of this nature.

For 2009, the per flat-rate trip basis travel allowance (P9604) is $10.00 (a 5 cent increase from 2008), and, in situations where the average round trip to patients’ homes is more than 20 miles, the per mile travel allowance (P9603) is $1.00 (also a 5 cent increase from 2008).

Medicare contractors have the option of establishing a higher per mile rate in excess of the minimum of $1.00 per mile if local conditions warrant it.

To receive the travel allowance fee payment update for processed claims submitted between Jan. 1 (when the revised rates became effective) and Oct. 5 (when the new rates will be implemented) contact your local Medicare contractor. Contractors will not retroactively pay claims unless you do.

Read CMS Transmittal 1790, Change Request 6524, issued Aug. 7, for complete details.


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