American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Bulletin Advocacy Brief: February 25

ACS Webinar on Implementation of Office E/M Coding Changes—Register Now!

The American College of Surgeons Division of Advocacy and Health Policy invites Fellows and surgical practice staff to the second in a series of webinars describing proper implementation of office and other outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) codes, which were extensively updated for 2021. Join four surgeons with expertise in general surgery coding and reimbursement as they discuss accurate office visit E/M code level selection for common patient scenarios at general surgery clinic visits. Attendees will benefit from insights shared by the speakers about the revised elements of medical decision-making, such as chronic versus acute problems, tests ordered versus tests reviewed and minor surgery versus major surgery, among others.

Major Changes for 2021 Office E/M Coding, Part 2: Implementation Tips

Wednesday, March 24 | 8:00–9:00 pm ET

Register

Webinar speakers will include the following members of the ACS General Surgery Coding and Reimbursement Committee: Linda M. Barney, MD, FACS, GSCRC Chair; Jayme D. Lieberman, MD, MBA, FACS; Megan E. McNally, MD, FACS; and Don J. Selzer, MD, FACS, FASMBS.

For additional E/M education tools, visit the ACS Office/Outpatient E/M Coding Changes Resource Center. Contact Lauren Foe, Senior Associate for Regulatory Affairs, at lfoe@facs.org with questions.

House Budget Committee Votes to Advance COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

The House Budget Committee February 22 voted to advance a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, called The American Rescue Plan. Passage through the Budget Committee is a necessary first step as the bill moves towards final passage via a budgetary maneuver called reconciliation; the package included individual measures drawn up by relevant Committees, which were then bundled into one bill by the Budget Committee based on a blueprint of priority issues from the Biden Administration.

While subject to further amendments and changes, some relevant provisions of the American Rescue Act include the following:

  • Funding for the CDC to prepare, promote, administer, and monitor and strengthen confidence in COVID-19 vaccines
  • Funding to bolster the health care workforce, including monies for the Medical Reserve Corps and to Community Health Centers
  • Funding for health care professionals mental and behavioral health training
  • Medicaid coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment; Incentives for states to temporarily expand Medicaid
  • An additional $7 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program

The House could vote on the final bill as early as February 26. For more information about budgetary issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist, at asuermann@facs.org

Key Senate Committees Consider the Nomination for the Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Finance held hearings this week to consider the nomination of Xavier Becerra to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Xavier Becerra most recently served as the Attorney General for California and was previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure in Congress, he held a position on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare program.

Committee Members and Attorney General Becerra raised a wide variety of issues, including addressing health care inequities and disparities, improving maternal health outcomes, ensuring the solvency of Medicare, access to care and health care workforce shortages, promoting value-based care and health care innovation, health care price transparency, mental health services and reducing drug prices. Additionally, Senators and the Attorney General emphasized the importance of extending the telehealth flexibilities granted during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

Read Attorney General Becerra’s opening statement to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. For more information, contact ACS Senior Congressional Lobbyist, Carrie Zlatos, at czlatos@facs.org

How Will the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Affect Your Practice?

New payment policy, coding, and reimbursement changes set forth in the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule final rule took effect January 1. The MPFS, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updates annually, lists payment rates for Medicare Part B services and introduces or modifies other regulations that affect physician reimbursement and quality measurement.

The ACS submitted comments September 22, 2020, in response to the CMS MPFS proposed rule issued earlier in the year.* Some provisions in the final rule, released December 1, 2020, incorporate the College's recommendations. Although the final rule includes important payment and policy decisions that affect all physicians, this article focuses on updates that are particularly relevant to general surgery and its related specialties.  An article covering relevant updates to evaluation and management Current Procedural Terminology codes, global codes and telehealth reimbursement, among other items, was featured in the February Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons—read it to stay up to date with changes that may affect your practice.