Novitas – Denials
This advisory is for members who have Novitas as their Medicare Administrative Contractor.
On August 17, 2016, Novitas called me to let me know that they are seeing many ambulance claims denied due solely to the diagnosis codes that are listed on claims. Novitas requires a minimum of two ICD-10 codes, as follows:
- A primary diagnosis code that describes the patient’s medical condition at the time of transport, AND
- A secondary diagnosis code that reflects the patient’s need for the ambulance at the time of transport.
The list of primary ICD-10 codes was published by Novitas in their Ambulance Local Coverage Article A54574. While the ICD-10 codes in A54574 are not the only codes that will be accepted, it is highly recommended that you use one of those as your primary code, whenever possible.
Novitas also requires a secondary “diagnosis code”. This list is in their Ambulance Local Coverage Determination (LCD) Policy L35162. That has the four “Z” codes, at least one of which must be used as the secondary diagnosis code:
- Z74.01 – Bed Confined
- Z74.3 – needs continuous supervision (includes EKG)
- Z78.1 – physical restraints (patient safety, danger to self/others)
- Z99.89 – dependence on enabling machines (includes IV fluids, active airway management)
If the claim does not list a primary AND a secondary code, the claim is automatically denied. While the claim can be corrected and resubmitted for processing, that delays cash flow and adds time and expense for the ambulance supplier. Therefore, please make sure you list an appropriate primary code AND an appropriate secondary code.