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

Imaging Experts Publish New Guideline For Multimodality Asessment of Congenital Coronary Anomalies

March 3, 2020, Durham, NC – Experts in the medical imaging community have developed a landmark consensus document to optimize care of patients with congenital coronary anomalies. These defects of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles can be an important cause of a heart attack and sudden cardiac death in children and young adults, but historically they have been difficult to identify without cardiac catheterization. However, recent advances in multimodality imaging techniques have demonstrated increasing utility in the characterization of most congenital coronary anomalies in all age groups, and these techniques can complement or reduce the need for invasive angiography in many cases. Recommendations for Multimodality Assessment of Congenital Coronary Anomalies: A Guide from the American Society of Echocardiography provides guidelines for optimization of imaging for congenital coronary anomalies, with a review of the benefits and limitations of the different imaging techniques, including echocardiography, cardiac computed tomography, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging, and angiography. This guideline was developed in collaboration with the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, the Japanese Society of Echocardiography, and the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, and has also been endorsed by 17 ASE International Alliance Partners. Read more here.

Free ASE Coding Webinar

ASE is committed to making sure you have the resources need to thrive in today’s healthcare environment. Click here to access this FREE webinar,  2020 Reimbursement Updates Including the New Strain Code +93356. It is only 30 minutes long and focuses on the latest HOPPS and Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) changes to echo reimbursement and will help you prevent the most common errors in echo coding. A specific focus will be given to the new Myocardial Strain Imaging, CPT Code +93356.

Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and administrative staff.

Reimbursement Updates Including the New Strain Code +93356

Submission for MIPS 2019 Now Open and Check on Your 2020 Eligibility

CMS recently announced that the MIPS 2019 Data Submission Period is now open. MIPS eligible clinicians can start submitting data for 2019 through March 31, 2020. Also, you can now use the updated CMS Quality Payment Program Participation Status Lookup Tool to check on your initial 2020 eligibility for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). For more detailed information please click here. Interested in learning how ASE’s ImageGuideEcho™ Registry can help with future MIPS submissions? Contact Info@ImageGuideEcho.org for more information or to request a demonstration.

New Guideline Published For Stress Echocardiography In Ischemic Heart Disease

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) occurs when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart and is the leading cause of death in the United States. Stress echocardiography is routinely used for the detection of flow-limiting blockages in the coronary arteries in patients with symptoms such as exertional chest pain or shortness of breath. In this era of multimodality imaging, understanding the role and advantages of stress echocardiography for the patient presenting with symptoms of potential cardiac origin is essential. Guidelines for Performance, Interpretation, and Application of Stress Echocardiography in Ischemic Heart Disease: From the American Society of Echocardiography, replaces the 2007 ASE guideline on stress echocardiography which did not include class of recommendation and level of evidence; these are now included in this updated document, in addition to current practice recommendations and training requirements. Read more here.

Celebrating Our Similarities – Dr. Madhav Swaminathan’s January Presidential Blog

For the last few years, I was focused on supporting diversity and inclusion in just about everything I’ve participated in. “Celebrating our differences” became my mantra. However, a recent conversation with a young man about why it was okay and even valuable to be different got me thinking differently when after a few thoughtful minutes, he said, “But I don’t want to be different, because I am like everyone else, right?” His words gave me pause as I pondered similarity in the face of diversity. Global travel has driven that point home. Read more here.

Myocardial Strain Imaging Add-on CPT Code and Live Webinar

ASE is proud to see the establishment of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) add-on code +93356® to report myocardial strain imaging in conjunction with various transthoracic echocardiography procedures. The successful CPT application was a collaboration between ASE and the American College of Cardiology and will be effective for Medicare claims beginning today, January 1, 2020. This is the first new echo technology to achieve CPT editorial panel category 1 status in a decade! 

The code is intended to report myocardial strain imaging in conjunction with various transthoracic echocardiography procedures 93303, 93304, 93306, and 93308 in addition to stress echocardiography services 93350 and 93351. Additionally, the intent is for this code to be reported once per imaging session. Additional information on this code can be found on ASE’s Advocacy website.

Want to learn more? Join us for a live webinar on the 2020 Reimbursement Updates including the New Strain Code +93356, Friday, January 10, at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. The webinar will be presented by Michael Main, MD, FASE, ASE Advocacy Chair and RUC and CPT Advisor, and Denise Garris, ASE’s regulatory consultant and an expert in health policy and reimbursement.

This educational webinar will focus on the latest HOPPS and physician fee schedule (PFS) changes to echo reimbursement and help you prevent the most common errors in echo coding. Specific focus will be given to the new Myocardial Strain Imaging, CPT Code +93356. ASE would like to help the entire cardiovascular community, so this webinar is free for everyone. Please encourage your administrative and billing personnel to participate.  Register now to save your space. Specific questions regarding webinar registration can be sent to Jenn Goss at  JGoss@ASEcho.org.

December GEMs

During the month of December, two ASE members recognized  their colleagues for Going the Extra Mile and received a GEM award!

  • Sarika Anand
  • Heidi Borchers

Active members of ASE are encouraged to recognize their peers as a “GEM” for Going the Extra Mile (GEM). Whether it’s for their dedication to the field of cardiovascular ultrasound, being an outstanding mentor to students or fellows, their commitment to quality patient care, going above and beyond in the past month, a milestone service anniversary, or congratulating them on a major accomplishment. No matter the reason, it is always worth recognizing your peers. Help us celebrate ASE members making the world a better place. Learn more here .

Join ASE at ACC’s Cardiovascular Summit

ASE is pleased to be a part of  ACC’s 2020 Cardiovascular Summit, February 6-8, in Washington, D.C. We encourage you to attend and experience how to align strong leadership with up-to-date business strategies to improve cardiovascular (CV) care and patient outcomes. The Summit will also cover how to implement more efficient spending, while improving the CV clinician experience. ASE President-elect Judy Hung, MD, FASE, will participate in the Joint Society Plenary Session: Imaging for CAD: Where Is the Sweet Spot for Each Modality? Dr. Hung and James Kirkpatrick, MD, FASE, along with ACC Vice President Athena Poppas, MD, FASE, will present the ASE Workshop Echo Best Practice: Limited Echoes’ Hand Held – What Is the Future? Register today  for the best rate. ASE members receive the ACC member rate and discounts are available for groups of 3 or more!