Archives for April 2020

New CMS Changes Just Issued – Parity in Payment for Telephone Services

Updated CMS Guidance Provides Parity in Payment for Telephone Services

Today, CMS announced that it will provide parity in payment for telephone services. Specifically, Medicare payment for the telephone evaluation and management visits would be equivalent to Medicare payment for office/outpatient visits with established patients retroactive to March 1, 2020. This would increase payments for these services from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110.

ASE applauds CMS’s efforts to continue to provide more support for providers in the fight against COVID-19. This change in policy had been a priority for ASE and the Alliance of Specialty Medicine. Recently, as part of the Alliance, we sent CMS a letter highlighting the need for this change to support physician practices as they seek to deliver medically necessary care under unprecedented conditions.

The guidance updated today provides temporary regulatory waivers and new rules to maximum the flexibility in the response to COVID-19.

Telephone Evaluation, Management/Assessment and Management Services, and Behavioral Health and Education Services

  • A broad range of clinicians, including physicians, can now provide certain services by telephone to their patients.
  • Medicare payment for the telephone evaluation and management visits (CPT codes 99441-99443) is equivalent to the Medicare payment for office/outpatient visits with established* patients effective March 1, 2020.
  • When clinicians are furnishing an evaluation and management (E/M) service that would otherwise be reported as an in-person or telehealth visit, using audio-only technology, practitioners may bill using these telephone E/M codes provided that it is appropriate to furnish the service using audio-only technology and all of the required elements in the applicable telephone E/M code (99441-99443) description are met.
  • Using new waiver authority, CMS is also allowing many behavioral health and education services to be furnished via telehealth using audio-only communications.

Click here for the full list of telehealth services notes which services are eligible to be furnished via audio-only technology, including the telephone evaluation and management visits.

 *ASE is seeking clarification from CMS if this change includes new patients

Congratulations to Our Newest FASE!

This week, ASE welcomes 19 new distinguished Fellows of the American Society of Echocardiography (FASE) designation recipients! These members have exemplified excellence through education, research, leadership, and volunteerism. They are ambassadors for ASE, and recognized experts in their field. A full list of FASE members can be found on SeeMyHeart.org. If you are interested in applying for FASE, or would like more information, please visit ASEcho.org/FASE. Join us in congratulating the newest FASE recipients:

Yukio Abe, MD, PhD, FASE
Said Al-Maashani, MD, FACC, FASE
George T Charlton, MD, FACC, FASE
Theodore J. Cios, MD, MPH, FASE
Robert Russell Ehrman MD, MS, FASE
Sumeet Gandhi, MD, FRCPC, FACC, FASE
Prabhakaran P Gopalakrishnan, MD, FACC, FACP, SCH, FASE
Navazh Jalaludeen, BS (Hons), MSc, FASE
Eric Benedet Lineburger, MD, PhD, FASE
Charles E. Luoma, MS, RDCS, ACS, FASE
Patrice McKay, RDCS, FASE
Diego Medvedofsky, MD, FASE
Sheetal R Patel, MD, MSCI, FASE
Maxime Pichette, MD, MSc, FASE
J. Ross Renew, MD, FASE
Rajesh Shah, MD, FASE
Daniel A. Sloyer, MD, FASE
Milena Marie Wilke, MD, FASE
Geru Wu, MD, PhD, FACC, FASE

TCTMD Article on ASE COVID-19 Statement

Echo During COVID-19? New Advice Weighs Doctor Safety, Patient Needs

Practitioners performing echocardiography during the current COVID-19 pandemic should change their practice to limit their exposure, a precaution that will ultimately increase patient safety, according to a new statement from the American Society of Echocardiography. Read more here.

ASE Live Course COVID-19 Update

Review Course

The health, well-being, and safety of our live course attendees is of the utmost importance, and to that end ASE is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. On March 17, 2020, the ASE Executive Committee decided to cancel the live ASCeXAM/ReASCE Review Course in Boston, MA, on May 9-12 and offer it as a virtual online course. For more information on registering to attend this meeting virtually, click here.

ASE Scientific Sessions

On Tuesday, March 31, the ASE Executive Committee made the decision to cancel the live in-person ASE 2020 Scientific Sessions scheduled to be held in Denver, CO, on June 19-22, 2020.  As of April 29, the Executive Committee and the Scientific Sessions Program Committee are pleased to announce that the ASE 2020: Virtual Experience will take place on August 8-10, 2020 as a live broadcast of significant portions of the originally planned Scientific Sessions content. The format will be different, but the educational and scientific content will be just as exciting as if we were all together in person. This premier echocardiography conference will feature 44 hours of CME! Mark your calendar to join us for this one of a kind cardiovascular ultrasound educational experience. Click here for more information.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Registrar@ASEcho.org.

We  have created a COVID-19 Resources page for our members.

New POCUS Training Guideline in April JASE

The April JASE contains, “Recommendations for Echocardiography Laboratories Participating in Cardiac Point of Care Cardiac Ultrasound (POCUS) and Critical Care Echocardiography Training.”  Lead author James N. Kirkpatrick, MD, FASE, of the University of Washington Medical Center said, “This guideline arose out of the foresight of ASE Past President Jonathan Lindner and the ASE Executive Committee, who recognized the importance of providing guidance to echocardiography laboratories serving as partners with point of care ultrasound and critical care echocardiography clinicians.” In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, cardiac POCUS and Critical Care Echo (CCE) may play an important role in the bedside assessment of ill patients. A podcast on this guideline is available online.

ASE Headquarters – COVID-19 Update

Beginning March 26, 2020, the county where the ASE Headquarters is located is under a government order to “Stay at Home” due to the spread of the coronavirus. These “Stay at Home” recommendations continue to be in effect and depend on the infection rates in the County/State. ASE will keep all but essential personnel telecommuting until a time when it is judged safe to return to work. We are not suspending or closing operations; our employees will remain working and providing excellent customer service to our members and the cardiovascular ultrasound community. However, ASE will slightly modify its official open hours to 9 AM – 4 PM Eastern TimeMonday-Friday. Should you need to get in touch with a staff person, call our main office at 919-861-5574 and a phone list by department will be available. A staff directory is also available here. All general questions can also be sent through ASE@ASEcho.org. Thank you and our best wishes for your continued safety.

New 3D Imaging Code Survey Needs U.S. Physician Input

This is your opportunity to participate in the Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) process to ensure fair and adequate code valuation. The proposed CPT add-on code that describes the additional work required for 3D imaging, in addition to the base echocardiography service, is currently under review at the AMA RUC. Your participation in the RUC survey process is key in the assessment of the time, complexity, and physician work value for these procedures. If you were randomly selected, you received an email from “Qualtrics” with the subject line, “AMA RUC Survey – 3D Imaging of Cardiac Structures.” We ask you to look for it in all your email folders, as many members have found the survey in their spam/junk folder.

More information about the RUC and the survey process is available here.The AMA has created a video to explain the purpose of the survey process and provide specific instructions on how to complete the survey accurately. Please contact Irene Butler, ASE’s Vice President of Health Policy & Member Relations at IButler@ASEcho.org, with any questions. We greatly appreciate your time, input, and expertise.