Documenting a Positive COVID-19 Test in the Medical Record

on Tuesday, 03 November 2020. All News Items | FAQ

Q:

I have been told conflicting information about documenting a positive COVID-19 test. Is physician documentation that a patient has COVID-19 sufficient for the hospital to receive additional payment?



A:

The short answer is no. However, reminiscent of the late Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story.



COVID-19: Timeline to a New Code

The CDC announced the release of a new code specifically for reporting COVID-19 during the March 18th ICD-10-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee Meeting. This code became effective on April 1st, 2020. Following is a timeline of events prompting the speed with which this code was made available for use:

  • January 31, 2020: An emergency meeting was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) Family of International Classifications (WHOFIC) Network Classification and Statistics Advisory Committee (CSAC) and a new ICD-10 emergency code was established.
    • U07.1, 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease
  • February 20, 2020: The CDC published supplemental guidance for coding encounters related to COVID-19. At that time hospitals were instructed to used ICD-10-CM code B97.29 (Other coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified elsewhere) when coding a confirmed COVID-19 infection. Note, ICD-10-CM code B97.29 was to be used by hospitals for discharges occurring on or after January 1, 2020, and on or before March 31, 2020.
  • March 18, 2020: The Coordination and Maintenance Committee Meeting met virtually. It was announced that the COVID-19 code (U07.1) effective date was changed from October 1, 2020 to April 1, 2020 due to the national health emergency.
  • March 31, 2020: The CDC released the document ICD-10-CM Official Coding and Reporting Guidelines for coding COVID-19 April 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020. The guidelines indicated that you are to “Code only a confirmed diagnosis of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as documented by the provider, documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result, or a presumptive positive COVID-19 test result. For a confirmed diagnosis, assign code U07.1, COVID-19. This is an exception to the hospital inpatient guideline Section II, H. In this context, “confirmation” does not require documentation of the type of test performed; the provider’s documentation that the individual has COVID-19 is sufficient.”
  • April 1, 2020: The CDC published an ICD-10-CM Tabular Lists of Diseases and Injuries Addenda which established a new chapter (Chapter 22: Codes for special purposes [U00-U85https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/icd/icd10cm.htm">CDC ICD-10-CM webpage as well as the CMS ICD-10-CM webpage. The updated guidelines includes a new section in Chapter 1 (Certain Infectious and Parasitic Diseases) related to coding COVID-19.

 

Hospital Inpatient Setting: Timeline to Additional Payment for Treating COVID-19 Patients

  • March 27, 2020: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. Within this law was the following guidance regarding additional payment for treatment of patients diagnosed with COVID-19:
    • Sec. 3710 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System Add-On Payment for COVID-19 Patients During Emergency Period: “For discharges occurring during the emergency period, in the case of a discharge of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19, the Secretary shall increase the weighting factor that would otherwise apply to the diagnosis-related group to which the discharge is assigned by 20 percent. The Secretary shall identify a discharge of such an individual through the use of diagnosis codes, condition codes, or other such means as may be necessary.”

  • April 24, 2020: MLN Matters Article MM11764 details guidance in Change Request 11764 regarding coding COVID-19 and the implementation of the temporary payment adjustment as mandated by section 3710 of the CARES Act.
  • August 14, 2020: Transmittal 10300 (Update to the Implementation of the Increased Payments for COVID-19 Discharges Under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Under Section 3710 of the CARES Act) was released to prospectively update “the implementation of section 3710 of the CARES Act to require that a positive laboratory test be documented in the patient’s medical record for the increased payment for COVID-19 discharges under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS).”
    • Note, Transmittal 10300 has since been rescinded and replaced with Transmittal 10361 (Change Request 11925).
  • August 17, 2020: MLN Matters Article SE20015 initially released on April 15, 2020 was revised on August 17, 2020 to add the following language:
    • “To address potential Medicare program integrity risks, effective with admissions occurring on or after September 1, 2020, claims eligible for the 20 percent increase in the MS-DRG weighting factor will also be required to have a positive COVID-19 laboratory test documented in the patient’s medical record. Positive tests must be demonstrated using only the results of viral testing (i.e., molecular or antigen), consistent with CDC guidelines. The test may be performed either during the hospital admission or prior to the hospital admission.

For this purpose, a viral test performed within 14 days of the hospital admission, including a test performed by an entity other than the hospital, can be manually entered into the patient’s medical record to satisfy this documentation requirement. For example, a copy of a positive COVID-19 test result that was obtained a week before the admission from a local government-run testing center can be added to the patient’s medical record. In the rare circumstance where a viral test was performed more than 14 days prior to the hospital admission, CMS will consider whether there are complex medical factors in addition to that test result for purposes of this documentation requirement.”

Coding vs. Billing for COVID-19

As indicated earlier in this article, the ICD-10-CM guidelines indicate that you code only confirmed cases of COVID-19 as documented by the provider, documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result, or a presumptive positive COVID-19 test result.

However, CR 11925, for admissions occurring on or after September 1, 2020 hospitals are “required to have a positive COVID-19 laboratory test documented in the patient’s medical record.  Positive tests must be demonstrated using only the results of viral testing (i.e., molecular or antigen), consistent with CDC guidelines. The test may be performed either during the hospital admission or prior to the hospital admission.”

What do you do when a physician documents that a patient has a confirmed case of COVID-19 but there is no positive test result in the record?

Both, CR 11925 and MLN Matters SE20015 provide the following guidance:

“A hospital that diagnoses a patient with COVID-19 consistent with the ICD-10-CM Official Coding and Reporting Guidelines but does not have evidence of a positive test result can decline, at the time of claim submission, the additional payment resulting from the application at the time of claim payment of the 20 percent increase in the MS-DRG relative weight to avoid the repayment. To do so, the hospital will inform its MAC and the MAC will notate the claim with MAC internal claim processing coding for processing. The Pricer software will not apply the 20 percent increase to the claim when that MAC internal claim processing coding is present on a claim with the ICD-10-CM diagnosis code U07.1 (COVID-19). The updated Pricer software package reflecting this change will be released in October 2020.

To notify your MAC when there is no evidence of a positive laboratory test documented in the patient’s medical record, enter a Billing Note NTE02 “No Pos Test” on the electronic claim 837I or a remark “No Pos Test” on a paper claim.”

 

Hospital IPPS Payments under Section 3710 the CARES Act

CMS has made available the document COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing. Section F of this document, titled Hospital IPPS Payments under the CARES Act, answers questions about section 3710 of the CARES Act and provides examples illustrating the increase in IPPS operating MS-DRG payments. Note, during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), this document has been updated on a fairly regular basis and as of the October 28, 2020, the update is 152 pages in length. I encourage you to check for updates on a regular basis.  

 

Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Risk Assessment (CRA) Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice.  Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

 

 

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