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Issue #125 - May 20, 2009
AAPC EdgeBlast

Stand Up and Be Counted
How much do coders really earn? What specialties, certifications, locations, education, and other factors influence compensation? These and other questions are to be answered in the AAPC's 2009 Salary Survey.

The AAPC seeks medical coders — both noncertified and certified, members and non-members — to participate in the survey. The one-page anonymous survey takes only five minutes to complete and is accessible until June 30, 2009.

Results will be announced in the October issue of the AAPC's Coding Edge magazine. Access the survey by clicking the button below.

Take the Survey

Comment »

More Money Sought for I-10 Implementation
President Obama's administration has requested a $22.2 million increase in funding for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help the agency implement ICD-10 by October 2013, according to AAPC sources in Washington, D.C.

EdgeBlast will keep you informed as the details come in.

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Privacy Rules Discourage EMR Adoption
States with laws to protect patients' confidentiality may be discouraging hospitals from adopting electronic medical record (EMR) systems by up to 30 percent and may hinder the federal government's aim for interoperability, according to researchers at two universities.

The stimulus bill, enacted Feb. 17, allocates nearly $20 billion in funding for facilities and providers to adopt standardized EMR systems. Only 1.5 percent of hospitals have a comprehensive system while 8 percent have a basic system that includes provider notes, according to the March 25 New England Journal of Medicine. Read more »

Comment »

Trustees Paint a Bleak Picture for Medicare
To say the financial condition of the Social Security and Medicare programs remains challenging is an understatement, but one made none the less by the Medicare Board of Trustees in a summary of the 2009 Annual Reports, issued May 12.

"Today's report should trouble anyone who is concerned about the future of Medicare and health care in America," Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a joint statement regarding the Medicare trustee's report issued the same day.

"This isn't just another government report," Sebelius said. "It's a wake up call for everyone who is concerned about Medicare and the health of our economy." Read more »

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Stakeholders Plan to Reduce Health Care Spending
Health care stakeholders presented a plan to President Barack Obama and his administration May 11 that they say will reduce the growth rate of health care spending by 1.5 percent annually, or $250 for each American family of four each year. Read more »

Comment »

UC Berkeley Alerts Students to Breach
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley are notifying more than 190,000 people that their personal information, which dates back to 1999, may have been stolen after hackers attacked databases in the student health center. The accessed information is used for billing, self-reported health histories, and immunization records. UC Berkeley officials say the hackers did not access medical records. Read more »

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HIT Panel Formed, First Meetings Held
David Blumenthal, MD, Health and Human Services (HHS) national coordinator for health information technology (HIT), announced, May 8, the membership of the HIT Policy Committee established under the stimulus bill. The committee held its first meeting May 11 to begin planning a national HIT strategy. Read more »

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Sebelius Says Interoperability is Imperative
Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, told the House Ways and Means Committee, May 6, that health reform is not contingent merely upon health IT adoption, but on the interoperability of the various health IT programs. Read more »

Comment »

CMS Issues IPPS Proposed Rule for Comment
The 2010 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule, issued May 1, is a good indicator that times are tough for hospitals, and they're only going to get tougher. Read more »

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Proposed I-9 Changes: Business as Usual for 2010
Despite the planned implementation of ICD-10 in 2013, it's business as usual for ICD-9-CM as more than 140 new and 40 changed diagnostic codes are proposed for the 2010 fiscal year release of the diagnostic system. The draft codes are included in the proposed rule for the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS), and comment is being solicited. Final codes go into effect Oct. 1. Read more »

Comment »

Speech Pathologists May Bill Medicare Directly
Speech-language pathologists (SLP) will soon be able to enroll in the Medicare program and subsequently bill Medicare for outpatient speech-language pathology services furnished in private practice. Read more »

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Considering EHRs? Don't Wait for "Meaningful Use"
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—better known as the stimulus bill—provides approximately $19 billion in incentives over a five-year period for "eligible professionals" who are "meaningful users" of "qualified" electronic health record (EHR) systems.

If your practice is waiting for the government to define those terms before implementing an EHR system, health care IT experts say you're wasting valuable time. Read more »

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Coding Tips
AMA Posts More Changes to CPT® Books
The American Medical Association (AMA) has posted a new Corrections Document - CPT® 2009 spotlighting additional changes to the CPT® Professional and Standard manuals. Changes to code, nomenclature, and guidelines in the corrections document supersede some material in the CPT® manuals.

The corrections document is posted on the AMA Web site. Read more »

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Noridian Retires Three LCDs, Revises Three
Noridian Administrative Services, LLC (NAS) announced earlier this month that it is retiring certain local coverage determinations (LCDs) and revising a few others. Read more »

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Chiropractic Claims Rack Up $178 Million: OIG
Medicare inappropriately paid $178 million for chiropractic claims in 2006, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.

Miscoded (generally upcoded) claims accounted for $11 million in improper payments and $46 million was inappropriately paid for undocumented claims, but maintenance therapy was the biggest offender, totaling $157 million in improper payments. Read more »

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OIG Report Identifies Dialysis Facility Billing Mistakes
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) estimates that National Government Services, Inc. (NGS) overpaid dialysis facilities $3.9 million for laboratory tests provided to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries during 2004-2006. The overpayments, according to the April 27 report, were due to insufficient controls to ensure compliance on the part of dialysis facilities and NGS's limited ability to detect billing errors and lack of post-payment medical record reviews for claims submitted by dialysis facilities that separately billed ESRD-related laboratory tests. Read more »

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Medical News
Virtual Colon Cancer Tests Remain Noncovered
In a May 11 decision memo for screening computed tomography colonography (CTC) for colorectal cancer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has determined that the evidence is inadequate to conclude that CTC is an appropriate colorectal cancer screening test and it remains noncovered.

Medical News Today has more on the story.

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FDG PET National Coverage Being Reconsidered
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced May 8 that it is reconsidering the National Coverage Determination (NCD) for positron emission tomography (FDG) (220.6). CMS will consider whether to remove the current Coverage with Evidence Development (CED) requirement for FDG PET imaging for cervical cancer and make FDG PET nationally non-covered for the initial diagnosis of cervical cancer. Read more »

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CMS Considers Genetic Testing Coverage
The Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MedCAC) came together May 6 to discuss whether genetic testing improves health outcomes enough to warrant Medicare coverage. Does screening genetic testing change the natural history and/or reduce the complications of the disease and alter morbidity/mortality? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to know. Read more »

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Test Yourself Online
The Test Yourself questions can be accessed online at www.aapc.com/testyourself/. Once you go there and take the test, you can automatically grade your answers, correct any mistakes, and have your CEUs automatically added to your CEU Tracker for submission.

Coding Job Links
AAPC Job Database

AAPC Employment Forums

Featured Items
Salary Survey
I-10 Implementation
EMR Adoption
Picture for Medicare
Health Care Spending
UC Berkeley Breach
HIT Panel Formed
Interoperability
IPPS Proposed Rule
Proposed I-9 Changes
Speech Pathologists
Considering EHRs?
Coding Tips
Medical News
Test Yourself Online
Coding Job Links

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