Chronic Care Management – Key Points And Tips

Throughout my many years of servicing physicians as their biller, one common complaint I have heard is about time spent on unbillable services. “My staff and I spend an awful amount of time helping patients over the phone; is there any way I can get paid for that?” Physicians also want to know if they can be paid for services provided in between patient visits, such as completing forms, medication refills, and telephone consults. My response has always been “no”; there was no reliable way to get doctors paid for these types of services. Now however, some of that has changed with Medicare’s new willingness to pay for Chronic Care Management Code 99490.

CPT code 99490 is defined as: Chronic care management services, at least 20 minutes of clinical staff time directed by a physician or other qualified health care professional, per calendar month, with the following required elements:

Multiple (two or more) chronic conditions expected to last at least 12 months, or until the death of the patient;
Chronic conditions place the patient at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation/decompensation, or functional decline;
Comprehensive care plan established, implemented, revised, or monitored.
As of January 1st, 2015, Medicare allows a payment of $47.45 for Chronic Care Management. In this blog post, we’ll explore some rules and tips on how to document, and bill for this service.

What is a Chronic Condition?

According to the CDC, 66% of Medicare patients had two or more chronic conditions in 2013. Chronic conditions include:

Alzheimer’s and related dementia
Atrial Fibrillation
Heart Failure
Ischemic Heart Disease Osteoporosis
Although this is not the complete list, many of the patients my physicians service have two or more of these diseases. So, it’s safe to say many physicians will have a large population of patients eligible for this service.

Key Definitions:

Clinical Staff: a person who works under the supervision of a physician or other qualified health care professional and who is allowed by law, regulation and facility policy to perform or assist in the performance of a specified professional service; but who does not individually report that professional service. Examples are:

Medical Assistants
Directed by a Physician: CMS allows a physician to bill for this service so long as the service is provided under his/her general supervision. This means the physician is present and/or accessible during the time of service, and is able to guide the care. No direct contact between the physician and the patient is needed to bill this code.

Comprehensive Care Plan: according to CMS, a Comprehensive Care Plan includes the following:

Problem list;
Expected outcome and prognosis;
Measurable treatment goals;
Symptom management;
Planned interventions and identification of the individuals responsible for each intervention;
Medication management;
Community/social services ordered;
A description of how services of agencies and specialists outside the practice will be directed/coordinated; and
Schedule for periodic review and, when applicable, revision of the care plan.
These items should be documented in the patient’s chart prior to billing for the CCM code.

Key Tips:

1) Medicare requires that the patient understands and agrees to the chronic care management services before they are offered and billed. It may be best to draft a basic letter that the physician can review with the patient during their face-to-face visit prior to billing for the CCM. This letter should be signed by the patient and recorded in the patient’s record. This letter should include:

An explanation of the CCM and its availability
An explanation that the patient can revoke the service
A portion explaining that only one provider can bill for this service for each patient
An explanation on what information may be shared between physicians
2) Medicare requires that an Annual Well Visit or Comprehensive Evaluation and Management code be billed prior to the CCM. During this first visit, document the discussion with the patient described above, his/her acceptance or denial, and the care plan that the CCM will follow.

3) Chronic Care Management cannot be billed in the same calendar month as a Transition Care Management code (99495-99496), Home Health or Hospice care code (G0181-G0182), or End-Stage Renal Disease service codes (90951-90970). Although the limitation is not explicitly written into the CMS rules, practical billing experience may provide other limitations – such as the inability to bill the CCM during the same calendar month as a comprehensive E/M code or an annual well visit code.

4) Consider building a template in your EMR/EHR that you or your clinical staff can use to document each CCM service. This template should copy over some elements of the care plan documented during the initial face-to-face visit including: basic demographic information, medication and allergy info, the patient’s consent to the service, and clinical summaries that can be shared with other physicians.

5) When billing for CCM make the date of service range the calendar month in which you are billing, for example – 01/01/2015-01/31/2015.

Once your letter and EMR templates are set up, documentation and billing of these services should be a breeze. Good luck and happy billing!