Respiratory Care Week and CCI Edits

on Monday, 20 October 2014. All News Items | Outpatient Services | Coding

No, no, no…

This is Respiratory Care Week and we at MMP would like to thank all of you who provide respiratory care for your hard work and dedication to improving the respiratory health of your patients. When my oldest son was eleven, he had severe pneumonia that required an extended hospitalization. I remember anxiously watching as the respiratory care team provided wonderful services that helped him to recover. Healthcare is most appreciated when truly needed and I am most appreciative of the care given by those respiratory therapists to my young son.

That son now has two beautiful children, the youngest a one-year old daughter. She now understands the word “no” but very much does not like to hear it. Like her, for all of us, it is sometimes hard to be told “no” constantly. Unfortunately, Medicare’s National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) often tells providers “no” about the reporting of certain code combinations. Respiratory services are no exception and in honor of Respiratory Care Week, I thought I would review some of the CCI edits for respiratory services. The complete CCI edits can be found at the Medicare NCCI webpage. The information below comes from the NCCI Policy Manual, Chapter 11. Please refer to this manual for more information.

  • Alternate methods of reporting data obtained during a spirometry or other pulmonary function session should not be reported separately. For example, the flow volume loop is an alternative method of calculating a standard spirometric parameter. CPT code 94375 is included in standard spirometry (rest and exercise) studies.
  • If multiple spirometric determinations are necessary to complete the service described by a CPT code, only one unit of service should be reported. For example, CPT code 94070 describes bronchospasm provocation with an administered agent and utilizes multiple spirometric determinations as in CPT code 94010. A single unit of service includes all the necessary spirometric determinations.
  • Complex pulmonary stress testing (CPT code 94621) is a comprehensive stress test with a number of component tests separately defined in the CPT Manual. It is inappropriate to separately code venous access, ECG monitoring, spirometric parameters performed before, during and after exercise, oximetry, O2consumption, CO2production, rebreathing cardiac output calculations, etc., when performed as part of a complex pulmonary stress test.
  • CPT code 94060 (bronchodilation responsiveness, spirometry as in 94010, pre- and post-bronchodilator administration) describes a diagnostic test that is utilized to assess patient symptoms that might be related to reversible airway obstruction. It does not describe treatment of acute airway obstruction. CPT code 94060 includes the administration of a bronchodilator. It is a misuse of CPT code 94640 (pressurized or non-pressurized inhalation treatment for acute airway obstruction...) to report 94640 for the administration of the bronchodilator included in CPT code 94060. The bronchodilator medication may be reported separately.
  • CPT code 94640 (pressurized or non-pressurized inhalation treatment for acute airway obstruction...) and CPT code 94664 (demonstration and/or evaluation of patient utilization of an aerosol generator...) generally should not be reported for the same patient encounter. The demonstration and/or evaluation described by CPT code 94664 is included in CPT code 94640 if it utilizes the same device (e.g., aerosol generator) that is used in the performance of CPT code 94640. If performed at separate patient encounters on the same date of service, the two services may be reported separately.
  • CPT code 94640 (pressurized or non-pressurized inhalation treatment for acute airway obstruction...) describes either treatment of acute airway obstruction with inhaled medication or the use of an inhalation treatment to induce sputum for diagnostic purposes. CPT code 94640 should only be reported once during a single patient encounter regardless of the number of separate inhalation treatments that are administered. If CPT code 94640 is used for treatment of acute airway obstruction, spirometry measurements before and/or after the treatment(s) should not be reported separately. It is a misuse of CPT code 94060 to report it in addition to CPT code 94640. The inhaled medication may be reported separately.

There has been a lot of discussion about the last bullet point, which was new for 2014, that states that inhalation treatment “should only be reported once during a single patient encounter”. The issue is the definition of the term “encounter”. According to a statement issued by a coding specialist for NCCI, “encounter” in this instance means “direct personal contact in the hospital between a patient and a physician (or other clinician)… If the professional completes the inhalation service(s) and terminates the patient encounter but returns later that day to initiate additional inhalation treatment(s) reportable as CPT code 94640, an additional UOS (unit of service) of CPT code 94640 may be reported for this subsequent patient encounter.” We encourage all providers to clarify the interpretation of the term “encounter” with your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) and other payers.

These NCCI rules again demonstrate that healthcare involves more than just providing patient care. Coding and billing play a major part in all aspects of healthcare. So someone in your Respiratory Care department needs to be aware of and understand the coding and billing requirements for Medicare and other payers. Because when Medicare says “no”, they mean “no”.

Article by Debbie Rubio

Debbie Rubio, BS, MT (ASCP), is the Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Debbie has over twenty-seven years of experience in healthcare including nine years as the Clinical Compliance Coordinator at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Debbie monitors, interprets and communicates current and upcoming regulatory and compliance issues as they relate to specific entities concerning Medicare and other payers. You may contact Debbie 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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