CMS Releases Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data for CY 2013

On June 1, 2015, CMS publicly released the “Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier Public Use File”, which provides information on the services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries by ambulance suppliers, physicians and other healthcare provider groups. The data file is based on calendar year 2013 data. This release follows on last year’s release of payment data for calendar year 2012.

The database lists all individual and organizations providers by National Provider Identifier (NPI), and provides information on utilization, total payments and submitted charges. It can also be searched by Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code and place of service.

The Public Use File can be obtained by clicking here: http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/Physician-and-Other-Supplier.html. Please note that you will need to download the desired file and then import it into an appropriate database or statistical software program. CMS is indicating that Microsoft Excel is not sufficient for these purposes, and that importing it into Excel may result in an incomplete loading of data.

A number of news organizations have already created searchable databases that will allow you to search the 2012 data by physician/organizational name, provider specialty, city, state, etc. It is expected that these news organizations will be updating their websites to incorporate the 2013 data in the coming weeks. The searchable database created by the Wall Street Journal can be accessed by clicking here: http://projects.wsj.com/medicarebilling/?mod=medicarein.

Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor Permanent Medicare Relief Legislation

Yesterday morning, Congressmen Walden, Welch, Nunes and Neal sent a Dear Colleague to their fellow members of the House of Representatives asking them to cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). This bill will make the current temporary ambulance add-on payments permanent for all ambulance services.

Even with our recent victory of a temporary 33-month extension of crucial Medicare ambulance relief, our Champions on Capitol Hill realize the importance of receiving permanent Medicare relief. They, like every ambulance service across the country, understand that a permanent solution is necessary to provide quality health care to individuals and our communities both today and tomorrow.

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Ask Your Members of Congress to Cosponsor Permanent Medicare Relief Legislation

Yesterday morning, Congressmen Walden, Welch, Nunes and Neal sent a Dear Colleague to their fellow members of the House of Representatives asking them to cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). This bill will make the current temporary ambulance add-on payments permanent for all ambulance services.

Even with our recent victory of a temporary 33-month extension of crucial Medicare ambulance relief, our Champions on Capitol Hill realize the importance of receiving permanent Medicare relief. They, like every ambulance service across the country, understand that a permanent solution is necessary to provide quality health care to individuals and our communities both today and tomorrow.

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Ambulance Open Door Forum, April 22, H.R. 2

CMS held its latest Ambulance Open Door Forum on April 22. It started with the following two announcements:

– H.R. 2 was signed into law extending the temporary ambulance adjustments through December 31, 2017. The adjustments are 2% (urban pick-ups), 3% (rural) and 22.6% (super rural).

– For free standing facilities, use the “P” modifier if the facility is not part of the hospital and use “H” if it is hospital-based.
Following these announcements, there was a Question and Answer period. Most of the questions were not answered on the call and the caller was asked to submit their questions to CMS, or was told to ask their Medicare Administrative Contractor or was told to appeal the denied claim referenced in their question. A few were answered, as follows:

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Senate Delays Vote on SGR Repeal Package

Early this morning after completing action on a FY 2016 Senate Budget Resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate would not act on legislation (H.R. 2) to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physicians until after the Easter recess. H.R. 2 includes the 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases. Senate Majority Leader McConnell had sought consideration today of H.R. 2 under unanimous consent which requires the support of all 100 Senators. There were objections to the expedited vote and thus the Senate is now expected to consider the bill when it returns on April 14.

The temporary Medicare ambulance increases expire on March 31. However, contractors have a standard requirement to hold all Medicare claims for 14 days before making payment. The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a notice to contractors formally directing them to utilize this hold. So if the Senate does complete action on H.R. 2 on April 14 there will be no need for reprocessing any claims for the retroactive increases. Should action on H.R. 2 be delayed further, Congress could do a short-term extension or simply allow the provisions to expire for a short period of time. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have both stated they would like quick consideration of H.R. 2 when the Senate returns.

We will continue to keep you posted of new developments.

House Votes in Favor of Permanent Doc Fix, Bill Moves to the Senate

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 2, doing away with Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula and passing a permanent doc fix. The 392-37 vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan. As we reported on March 24, thanks to our champions on Capitol Hill, a 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases was included in the bill. If enacted, the bill would extend the deadline for expiration of Medicare ambulance relief from March 31 until December 31, 2017.

The Senate still needs to pass the bill and is working on a short time-line before they adjourn for recess. Senate Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about different aspects of the bill so it is unclear whether the chamber will consider H.R. 2 before it recesses. It is also uncertain if Congress would pass a short-term extension to give the Senate more time or if CMS would be required to formalize its 14-day claim hold policy should H.R. 2 not be enacted before March 31.

In addition to Medicare ambulance relief, the package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Starting in January 2016, the bill would expand the programs to Delaware, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia. The program would then expand nationwide starting in January 2017.

The AAA will continue to push for the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (S. 377, H.R. 745). S. 377 and H.R. 745 would make the current temporary ambulance increases permanent and place our industry in a strong position moving forward for data-driven reforms to the ambulance fee schedule. S. 377 and H.R. 745 would also address fraud and abuse with repetitive BLS non-emergency dialysis transports. While a similar program to the current pilot programs. The prior authorization within S. 377 and H.R. 745 would apply only to dialysis transports and would institute additional safeguards to ensure timely prior authorization for medically necessary transports.

I want to thank all AAA members, staff and consultants who continue to work tirelessly on extending essential Medicare ambulance relief. We will keep you posted of new developments.

House SGR Repeal Package Contains Ambulance Relief Extension

Earlier today, House Republican and Democratic leadership released the complete package (H.R. 2) for a permanent fix to the physician fee schedule. I am happy to report that the AAA through our champions on Capitol Hill was successful in getting a 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases included in the bill. If enacted, the bill would extend the deadline for expiration of Medicare ambulance relief from March 31 until December 31, 2017.

The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2 on either Thursday or Friday prior to adjourning for the two-week Easter recess. The bill is currently expected to pass the House with bipartisan support. Senate Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about different aspects of the bill so it is unclear whether the chamber will consider H.R. 2 before it recesses. It is also unclear if Congress would pass a short-term extension to give the Senate more time or if CMS would be required to formalize its 14-day claim hold policy should H.R. 2 not be enacted before March 31.

The package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Starting in January 2016, the bill would expand the programs to Delaware, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia. The program would then expand nationwide starting in January 2017.

The AAA continues to push for the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (S. 377, H.R. 745). S. 377 and H.R. 745 would make the current temporary Medicare ambulance increases permanent and place our industry in a strong position moving forward for data-driven reforms to the ambulance fee schedule. S. 377 and H.R. 745 would also address fraud and abuse with repetitive BLS non-emergency dialysis transports. While a similar program to the current pilot programs, the prior authorization within S. 377 and H.R. 745 would apply only to dialysis transports and would institute additional safeguards to ensure timely prior authorization for medically necessary transports.

We will keep you posted of new developments.

Permanent Medicare Ambulance Relief

Please reach out to your members of Congress and ask that they cosponsor the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention and Reform Act (H.R. 745, S. 377) and support an extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance add-on payments.  H.R. 745 and S. 377 would make the current temporary Medicare increases of 2% urban, 3% rural and the super rural bonus payment permanent. Please also ask your members of Congress to support an extension of the increases, which expire on March 31.

In the next few weeks, Congress is expected to consider an extension of the temporary fix to the physician fee schedule. This package would also be the legislative vehicle for an extension of the Medicare ambulance add-on payments. An extension of these increases will ensure the continuation of short-term relief while we push to make the increases permanent. So please write today!

Thank you in advance for writing to your members of Congress.

Permanent Medicare Ambulance Relief Bills Introduced in Congress

I am extremely happy to report our Senate and House champions on Medicare ambulance relief introduced on Wednesday the Medicare Ambulance Access, Fraud Prevention, and Reform Act of 2015 (S. 377, H.R. 745). Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Senate bill (S. 377) and Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR), Peter Welch (D-VT), Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced the House bill (H.R. 745).