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Final Policy, Payment and Quality Provisions Changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2019

On November 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that includes updates to payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) on or after January 1, 2019. The CY 19 changes are intended to reduce administrative burden and improve payment accuracy. 

For CY 2019 and CY 2020, CMS will continue the current coding and payment structure for E/M office/outpatient visits and practitioners should continue to use either the 1995 or 1997 E/M documentation guidelines to document E/M office/outpatient visits billed to Medicare. For CY 2019 and beyond, CMS is finalizing the following policies:

  • Elimination of the requirement to document the medical necessity of a home visit in lieu of an office visit;
  • For established patient office/outpatient visits, when relevant information is already contained in the medical record, practitioners may choose to focus their documentation on what has changed, since the last visit, or on pertinent items that have not changed, and need not re-record the defined list of required elements if there is evidence that the practitioner reviewed the previous information and updated it as needed.  Practitioners should still review prior data, update as necessary, and indicate in the medical record that they have done so;
  • Additionally, we are clarifying that for E/M office/outpatient visits, for new and established patients for visits, practitioners need not re-enter in the medical record information on the patient’s chief complaint and history that has already been entered by ancillary staff or the beneficiary. The practitioner may simply indicate in the medical record that he or she reviewed and verified this information; and
  • Removal of potentially duplicative requirements for notations in medical records that may have previously been included in the medical records by residents or other members of the medical team for E/M visits furnished by teaching physicians.

Please click on the link below for the complete CMS communication regarding the changes.

CMS.gov