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The Health Care Financing Administration announced in December that toll-free telephone service is available to physicians, hospitals, and other home health providers who care for Medicare beneficiaries, to answer their questions about billing, claims processing, and other Medicare-related issues. Previously, providers paid long-distance phone charges to call the private insurance companies that process and pay Medicare claims.
Providers will also get information at no cost from the 68 Medicare call centers, bringing the toll-free service to providers in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The toll-free lines serve all Medicare physicians, home health agencies and durable medical equipment suppliers.
Each center has its own toll-free phone number, which contractors are publicizing through bulletins and Web sites. Messages informing providers about the availability of the new toll-free service have been placed on all existing toll lines.
The Health Care Financing Administration has delayed the implementation date for version 6.0 of the UB-92 until April 1, 2001, due to problems that delayed providers’ ability to test, according to Transmittal A-00-100, dated Dec. 22. In April 2000, HCFA had announced that versions other than 6.0 would not be supported after Dec. 31, 2000.
The instructions applied to all providers in addition to all coordination-of-benefits trading partners. In the meantime, fiscal intermediaries will need to support both versions (6.0 and 5.0) of the UB-92. Providers should not wait until March 31, 2001, to manage the conversion. To monitor progress made by the facility, reports must be submitted weekly on Tuesdays.
The entire transmittal is available at www.hcfa.gov/pubforms/transmit/A00100.pdf.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has developed a set of fundamental principles and list of operational tenets it recommends as a blueprint for protecting the security of patients’ health records and ensuring the quality of that information on the Web.
The three fundamental principals are: E-health organizations should provide an easily understandable notice of their health information practices that informs consumers what personal health information is being collected, who is collecting it and how it is being used; these organizations should make it easy to collect authentic, accurate, timely and complete individually identifiable personal health data; and they should maintain individually identifiable personal health information in such a way that ensures it is private, secure, and retained or destroyed only in accordance with the consumer’s authorization or applicable law.
AHIMA’s list of 39 tenets and how they apply to providers, consumers and third parties is available in the November/December issue of the Journal of the AHIMA, and on-line at www.ahima.org/infocenter/guidelines/tenets.html.
On Jan. 10, the Health Care Financing Administration released a final rule creating a new Medicare policy for the payment of costs of approved nursing and allied health programs, as well as a proposed rule for costs related to clinical psychology training programs.
The regulation clarifies and restates payment policies for nursing and allied health education programs, in addition to registered nurse anesthetist education programs, contained in the Provider Reimbursement Manual and other documents. The regulation codifies rules in the manual and adds little new guidance, and so is not expected to have a major effect on Medicare spending or the number of professionals trained, indicate HCFA officials.
The Health Care Financing Administration now accepts a new CPT code for cryosurgery of the prostate gland, according to transmittal 1689, dated Dec. 22, 2000. The new code is 55873, which is new to CPT 2001.
As the new code includes not only the cryosurgical ablation procedure but also the ultrasonic guidance for interstitial cryosurgical probe placement, it replaced the previous two HCPCS codes, G0160 and G0161, on Jan. 1, 2001. Providers may continue to use G0160 and G0161 codes for claims with dates of service through March 31, 2001. This change requires an update in Sections 4174.3 and 4174.4 of the Hospital Medicare Manual.
To view the entire transmittal, go to: www.hcfa.gov/pubforms/transmit/R1689B3.pdf.