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Modifiers - Articles

Q/A: Which Modifiers to Use When Billing 44005 and 36556 Together
March 26th, 2018 - Chris Woolstenhulme QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
I have a denial for 44005 and 36556 being billed together. I added modifiers 51, 59, and Q6 to 36556 but I am afraid it will deny again?
Documentation for Surgical Dressings
March 9th, 2018 - Medicare Learning Network
The Medicare Learning Network provides guidance on required documentation for surgical dressings.
New Modifiers Released in 2018
February 13th, 2018 - Chris Woolstenhulme, QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
There were 13 new modifiers released in 2018, be sure you are using them if appropriate.     FY X-ray taken using computed radiography technology/cassette-based imaging    JG Drug or biological acquired with 340b drug pricing program discount    QQ Ordering professional consulted a qualified clinical decision support mechanism for this service and the related data was ...
Medicare Requiring Modifier GP on Physical Therapy Services
February 1st, 2018 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Medicare's MLN Matters Number: MM10176 was recently revised to identify services subject to their therapy cap. The revision became effective on January 1, 2018 and some providers have begun to receive claim rejections because they are not using the appropriate modifier. The article states the following (emphasis added): Services furnished under the Outpatient ...
Reporting Tooth Numbers and Oral Cavity Areas
February 1st, 2018 - Chris Woolstenhulme, QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
When billing for dental procedures you need to identify the exact tooth and/or location in the oral cavity. Qualifiers are used to report the location and tooth number. When billing procedures on teeth and the oral cavity, the JP qualifier is used to identify the tooth number(s) and the JO ...
Anesthesia Documentation Modifiers - Jurisdictions: J8A, J5A, J8B, J5B
January 29th, 2018 - Christine Woolstenhulme, QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
Documentation Modifiers direct prompt and correct payment of the anesthesia claims submitted. Documentation modifiers (AA, QK, AD, QY, QX and QZ) must be billed in the first modifier field. If a QS modifier applies, it must be in the second modifier field. Processing delays and denials may occur for claims submitted ...
Paravertebral Joint/Nerve Blocks - Diagnostic and Therapeutic
January 29th, 2018 - Find-A-Code
According to Medicare article A50443, a facet joint level refers to the zygapophyseal joint or the two medial branch nerves innervating that zygapophyseal joint. Use CPT codes 64491 and 64492 in conjunction with 64490. Do not report CPT code 64492 more than once per day. Use CPT codes 64494 and 64495 in conjunction with 64493. Do not report CPT code 64495 more than once per day. For injection of ...
$4.6 million in Claims Paid Incorrectly by CMS when Using KX Modifier
January 16th, 2018 - Chris Woolstenhulme, QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
$4.6 Million was paid by CMS for claims that did not comply with Medicare requirements.  The claims were paid in 2017 and reported by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) stating, "A 2017 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report noted that, in some cases, pharmacies incorrectly billed Medicare Part B ...
Patient Relationship Codes
January 16th, 2018 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Section 1848(r)(4) of MACRA requires that claims submitted for items and services furnished by a physician or applicable practitioner on or after January 1, 2018, include codes for the following: care episode groups patient condition groups patient relationship categories Previously, CMS decided to use procedure code modifiers to report patient relationship codes on Medicare ...
Medicare Requiring Specific Modifiers on Therapy Services
January 15th, 2018 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Medicare's MLN Matters Number: MM10176 was recently revised to identify services subject to their therapy cap. The revision became effective on January 1, 2018 and some providers have begun to receive claim rejections because they are not using the appropriate modifier. The article states the following: Services furnished under the Outpatient ...
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
January 11th, 2018 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) are considered to be an intermediate level of care which is commonly considered after the patient has been discharged from inpatient care. For some patients and/or conditions they can also provide an effective level of care when hospitalization is not clinically indicated or preferred. The following ...

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Erythropoietin Stimulating Agents (ESA)
November 27th, 2017 - Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
Coverage ESA is typically covered for the following condition(s): Treatment of anemia associated with chronic renal failure (whether or not that patient is on dialysis) Treatment of significant anemia in patients with non-myeloid malignancies where anemia is due to the effect of concomitantly administered chemotherapy Treatment of anemia due to AZT and/or other Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTI) used in treatment of HIV/AIDS Treatment of selected ...
New Policy from UnitedHealthcare
September 22nd, 2017 - Shannon DeConda, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CMSCS, CPMA, CEMA
In the June 2017 UHC Network Bulletin, there was an article that addressed UHC's decision to no longer pay for consultation services.....
Global Surgical Package: When to Bill and When Not to Bill, that is the Question
September 8th, 2017 - Stephanie Allard, CPC, CEMA, RHIT
The global surgical package is inclusive of the services that would normally be provided to the patient following surgery. Depending on the global period assigned to a CPT code, the pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative services could be included in the global surgical package.....
Modifier JW With Drug Codes
June 27th, 2017 - Find-A-Code
Modifier JW In the past, some Medicare Administrative Contractors have required providers to report wasted drugs with modifier JW (Drug amount discarded/not administered to any patient). Use of the modifier was at the contractor’s discretion, and some contractors told providers not to report it. But effective January 1, 2017, all providers ...
Modifier 59
June 5th, 2017 - Find-A-Code
Definition - The “-59” modifier is used to indicate a distinct procedural service. The physician may need to indicate that a procedure or service was distinct or independent from other services performed on the same day. This may represent a different session or patient encounter, different procedure or surgery, different site, ...
Covered colonoscopy is attempted but cannot be completed due to extenuating circumstances
December 21st, 2016 - Chris Woolstenhulme, QCC, CMCS, CPC, CMRS
Medicare will pay for the interrupted colonoscopy as long as the coverage conditions are met for the incomplete procedure. However, the frequency standards associated with screening colonoscopies will not be applied by CWF. When a covered colonoscopy is next attempted and completed, Medicare will pay for that colonoscopy according to ...
Modifier 52 vs. 53
December 29th, 2015 - Seth Canterbury, CPC, ACS-EM
So you’ve read the descriptions for both Modifiers 52 and 53, but you’re still on the fence as to which one is appropriate for a certain surgical case. This brief article will try to better differentiate between these two often-confused modifiers. Modifier 53 is appropriate when a...
Modifiers in Postoperative Periods
December 29th, 2015 - Allison Singer, CPC
Modifiers in Postoperative Periods Introduction Documenting the events of a patient visit is not always the simplest and most straightforward of processes. Many variables affect which information must be included in order to report a procedure or service accurately. Global periods are one of...
Pre-op visits: True or False?
December 29th, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
Are the following statements true or false? • The PCP cannot be paid to do a pre-op assessment of a Medicare patient prior to surgery because of the new consult rules. • The surgeon can never be paid to do a pre-op visit if s/he is going to take the patient to surgery. • The...
What Does It Mean To Scrub An Insurance Claim?
December 29th, 2015 - David Greene, MD
During the rigorous training physicians undergo to learn their craft, very little education is received on how to deal with submitting claims to insurance companies. It’s unfortunately a necessary evil, as surgeons who contract with insurance companies rely on that reimbursement as the...
Reporting Administration Codes with Vaccines
December 29th, 2015 - Allison Singer, CPC
When it comes to billing for vaccines, the rules for reporting administration codes can be tricky. Reporting the right vaccine code alone is not enough to guarantee proper billing. Most billing scenarios allow providers to charge for both the vaccine product and the administration of the vaccine...
Coding Excisions and Wound Repairs
October 15th, 2015 - Allison Singer, CPC, CPMA
Chart audits frequently examine coding associated with lesion removals and wound repairs. In order to assign the appropriate procedure code, certain documentation must be included in the medical record, such as lesion type, excision size, wound repair, and location. Without these important details,...
How do I tell if a code is defined as unilateral or bilateral
October 15th, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
There are some procedures which are defined as unilateral procedures, and some defined as bilateral procedures. If the procedure is defined as unilateral but performed bilaterally, then the physician is paid 150% of the fee schedule amount when performed on both sides. If the code is defined as...
Post-operative Hospital Visits
October 15th, 2015 - Betsy Nicoletti, M.S., CPC
In 1992, CMS developed the concept of the Global Surgical Package, which pays for surgical services with a single payment. The full description of services that are included in this payment is described in the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 12, Section 40 and in a CMS Fact Sheet.
Modifier 24
July 27th, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 24 is appended to an Evaluation and Management service by the same physician during a post op period. See the CPT® book for the complete definition. This modifier may only be used with E/M services. When a physician bills for a surgical procedure, the post op care for that procedure...
Modifier 25
July 27th, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 25: Significant, separately identifiable E/M service by the same physician on the same day of the procedure or other service. Refer to the CPT® book for the complete definition. Modifier 25 is appended to the E/M service, never to a procedure. The decision about whether to bill for...
Can we bill a low level E/M with every procedure?
June 1st, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
Can’t we bill a low level E/M with every procedure? No! Medicare says this: Per CCI (chapter 11, Letter R.): “The decision to perform a minor surgical procedure is included in the payment for the minor surgical procedure and should not be reported separately as an E/M service. ...
Preventive medicine and office visit, same day
June 1st, 2015 - Codapedia Editor
Can I use modifier 25 on an E/M service on the same day as a preventive medicine exam Let’s review what a preventive medicine service is, in order to answer that question. Preventive medicine services are: • The description given by CPT® for “annual physicals” •...
QW Modifier for CLIA waived tests
October 1st, 2013 - Codapedia Editor
QW is a HCPCS modifier defined as: CLIA waived test. Append it to lab services that are on the CLIA waived test list. Download the up to date list of CLIA waived tests from CMS's web site. The link is the citation. There are two issues: Some tests do not require the QW modifier, and may...
Modifier 59 no longer an option for repeat services
October 1st, 2013 - Scott Kraft
If you’re starting to see denials when you append modifier 59 (distinct procedural service) to your claims that involve repeating the same procedure on the same date of service for the same patient, blame a change in Medicare claims policy that took effect on July 1, 2013. Medicare...
Hospice Care
August 28th, 2013 - Codapedia Editor
Patients who sign up with hospice waive their rights to receive Medicare Part B services, and must look to the hospice organization to provide care related to the terminal illness. The hospice provider receives a daily payment to care for the patient on hospice. The patient’s own attending...
Modifier -25 or -57?
April 24th, 2013 - Debra Sanders
When the physician is making a decision for surgery on a procedure with a 0-10 day global period a -25 modifier is used on the E/M. If the procedure discussed has a 90 day global period the -57 modifier would then apply to the E/M. Ex: 20610 = 0 day global Code as: 99213-25, 20610 Ex:...
How do you report bilateral procedures? One line or two?
October 14th, 2009 - Mary LeGrand
Bilateral Total Knees—How to Submit the Claim From Question: How do I report bilateral procedures, one line or two? Answer: Great question, unfortunately the payors have made this simple concept of bilateral procedures challenging from a reimbursement standpoint! Survey your payors...
Transphenoidal hypophysectomy--how is this coded?
August 10th, 2009 - Kim Pollock
Question: How do we code a transphenoidal hypophysectomy when we do the procedure with an ENT doctor? The ENT doctor says he has his own codes to bill. Answer: There are two codes to report this procedure. First, CPT® 61548 (Hypophysectomy or excision of pituitary tumor, transnasal or...
Facet Joint Injection Services and Modifier 50
August 5th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
CMS posted a transmittal 7-31-09 about the appropriate use of modifier 50 for Facet Joint Injection Services. It is attached as a resource. Effective date is 8-31-09.
Chemotherapy Infusion and E/M on the same day
July 3rd, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Is it appropriate to bill an E/M service with a chemotherapy infusion? Here is how Nancy Maguire answered that question: If a significant separately identifiable evaluation and management service is performed, the appropriate E & M code should be reported utilizing modifier 25 in addition to...
Using Modifer -59
March 31st, 2009 - Crystal Reeves
By Crystal Reeves, CPC, CMPE, Principal Modifier -59 is probably one of the most misunderstood, misused, and most-feared of all CPT® modifiers. Some practices avoid using it all together because they don’t want to be guilty of unbundling. Some practices do not use it because they are not...
Global Surgical Package
March 29th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
The concept of paying surgeons a global payment for all services related to a surgery started in 1992, with the implementation of the Resource Based Relative Value System (RBRVS). This concept describes the components of the global package, and established the post op period for surgical services,...
Modifier -22 Unusual Procedural Services
March 25th, 2009 - Alyce Kalb
Modifier 22 is used when services provided are greater than usually required for the listed procedure and not covered under any other procedure code. This modifier can used in the following sections of the CPT® code set: Anesthesia Surgery Radiology Laboratory and...
Modifier 58
March 25th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 58 is appended to a surgical service to indicate that the physician performed a procedure during the global period that was planned at the time of the original procedure (staged), was more extensive than the original procedure, or is the therapeutic service following a diagnostic procedure....
Modifier 78
March 25th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 78 is used to indicate that the physician who performed a surgery which had a 10 or 90 day global period took the patient back to the OR for a related problem, typically, a complication. Do not use it for staged or related procedures--that is reported using modifier 58. For unrelated...
Modifier 79 Unrelated procedure or service
March 25th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 79 is appended to a procedure to indicate that the same surgeon took the patient back to the operating room during the global surgical period for an unrelated problem. The second procedure must be unrelated to the original procedure. See modifier 78 for return trips to the OR that are...
Modifier 77
March 25th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 77 is used to indicate that the same procedure was performed on a patient, but the service was done by a different physician than the first procedure. Use this modifier on the same day or during the global period of the first service. Use the same CPT® code. The procedure report...
Modifier 76 Repeat Procedure or Service by Same Physician
March 25th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 76 is used to report the service when the same procedure is performed by the same physician, on the same patient either the same day of the previous procedure or doing the global period. The modifier tells the payer that this is not a duplicate bill, but that the same procedure was...
Modifier 54 and modifier 55
March 21st, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
The global surgical package includes the care of the patient pre-operatively, intra-operatively and post-operatively. In some cases, however, the surgeon has performed only part of those services. For example, a tourist at a ski resort who falls and requires surgery will return to their own home...
Diagnostic test interpretation
March 21st, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Many-- but not all-- diagnostic tests are composed of a technical and a professional component. These tests are identified in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. When the physician practice performs both components, the service is billed globally, with no modifier. If the technical component is...
Modifier 79
March 18th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 79 is used to indicate that the physician performed a surgical service that required a return trip to the OR for an unrelated problem during the global post op period. Modifier 79 is appended to procedures. See the CPT® book for the complete definition. It is appended when: A...
Modifier 57
March 18th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 57 is a modifier that is appended to an E/M service to indicate that this was the visit at which the physician decided to perform surgery. It is only used on procedures with a 90 day global period, per CMS, although this is not a CPT® rule. It is only used the day of or before a major...
Two surgeons operating on the same patient, same session
March 18th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Most surgeries with two surgeons are reported and performed as the primary surgeon (no modifier on the CPT® code) and the assistant surgeon (modifiers 80, 81, 82, and AS). Some surgeries, however, require two surgeons (modifier 62) or a surgical team (modifier 66). How does a physician or...
Stress test coding
March 10th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Stress test codes are different than many other diagnostic tests which have two components: a professional component and a technical component. Stress tests have three components: Technical Interpretation and report (physician service) Supervision (physician service) The...
Using modifier 66 (team surgery) Q&A
March 4th, 2009 - Mary LeGrand
General Surgery Multiple Surgeons, Different Procedures Question: Do I use modifier 66 (team surgery) when our General surgeon is operating on a child during the same session as a plastic surgeon doing a cleft palate repair or a urologist performing a urologic procedure such as a...
Modifier 21
March 4th, 2009 - Codapedia Editor
Modifier 21 was deleted from the 2009 CPT® book. It was a modifier that was not recognized by many payers, and did not give the practice any additional payment. See the add on, prolonged services codes 99354--99357 to report prolonged services. See the Codapedia articles about this topic.

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