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Issue #188 - January 4, 2012
AAPC EdgeBlast

2012 Annual Participation Enrollment Program Extended

To better allow physicians to manage the uncertainty of threatened Medicare fee reductions slated for the 2012 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extended the 2012 Annual Participation Enrollment Program. Fortunately, a two-month Congressional suppression of the mandated pay cut followed.

Physicians narrowly escaped a 27.4 percent reduction in Medicare rates that was scheduled to begin Jan. 1 after the House of Representatives returned from hiatus long enough to pass the Senate's amended version of the House bill. The Senate bill extends the 0 percent update for just two months, through Feb. 29. The House bill would have averted the negative update for two years and provided a 1 percent update in 2012 and 2013.

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New "Independent at Home" Demo Revitalizes the House Call

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would like to reintroduce the concept of the "house call" to modern medicine with a new demonstration project. Under the "Independence at Home Demonstration," participating practices will provide home-based primary care to targeted chronically ill Medicare patients for a three-year period. In-home visits will be tailored to an individual patient' needs, and CMS will track beneficiaries' care experiences through quality measures.

The demonstration will reward health care providers that show a reduction in Medicare expenditures through an incentive payment if they succeed in providing high-quality care while reducing costs. Participation is voluntary, and CMS is accepting applications now. Applications and letters of intent, if applicable, are due by Feb. 6, 2012.

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ONC Public "Dashboard" Tracks EHR Payments, Progress

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is establishing a new system that will enable them and other interested parties to assess, improve, and publicize the effectiveness of ONC health information technology (IT) grants made to states and state-designated entities, according to a notice published Dec. 22, 2011 in the Federal Register. Through the "ONC Health IT Dashboard," ONC and its partners intend to create datasets that will be used to evaluate and compare the progress of health care providers registered to receive incentive payments for electronic health record (EHR) implementation.

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CMS Hears Call for RAC Demand Letter Improvement

Influenced by the opinion of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and state and regional hospital associations, CMS recently announced that it is revising its alleged overpayments demand letter sent to health care providers under the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program.

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Coding Tips

2012 MPFS Final Rule Cuts Imaging Payments, Redistributes RVUs
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Medicare Covers Screening for Depression
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J4 MAC Issues Billing Instructions for Denosumab
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Updated IOCE Includes Substantial Changes
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Medical News

Endo Docs Gaming the System, Study Says
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2012 Annual Participation
House Calls Revitalized
ONC Public "Dashboard"
RAC Demand Letter
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