Practice Management Toolbox

How the 2022 proposed Medicare payment rules impact GI


In July 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS)/Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) proposed rules for calendar year (CY) 2022. While the OPPS/ASC proposed rule was largely positive for gastroenterology, the PFS proposed rule was more of a mixed bag for practices.

No more colonoscopy coinsurance “loophole”: After nearly a decade of advocacy, the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act was finally signed into law this year and will take effect Jan. 1, 2023. The legislation phases out Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing obligations when a polyp or lesion is found and biopsied or removed as part of a screening colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. The American Gastroenterological Association is pleased this will finally eliminate a surprise bill for patients and remove a barrier to colorectal cancer screening.

The phase out timeline is as follows:

  • 80% payment for services furnished during CY 2022 (coinsurance, 20%).
  • 85% payment for services furnished during CY 2023 through CY 2026 (coinsurance, 15%).
  • 90% payment for services furnished during CY 2027 through CY 2029 (coinsurance, 10%).
  • 100% payment for services furnished from CY 2030 onward (coinsurance, 0%).

Providers must continue to report HCPCS modifier “PT” in the hospital outpatient and ASC during the transition period to indicate that a planned colorectal cancer screening service converted to a diagnostic service.

Proposed 2022 PFS conversion factor could fall 3.75% unless Congress acts: The proposed 2022 PFS conversion factor is $33.58. The decrease reflects the expiration of the 3.75% payment increase provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This congressional intervention averted a significant cut in Medicare physician payment that would have resulted in an almost 10% cut to GI services. The GI societies are working with Congress to avert cuts to physician payments next year as practices continue to recover from the pandemic.

GI procedure payments to increase 3% for hospital outpatient and ASCs: A 2.3% increase has been proposed for the conversion factors, resulting in $84.46 for hospitals and $50.04 for ASCs meeting quality reporting requirements. However, GI endoscopy procedure payments are expected to increase on average 3% in CY 2022.

Colon capsule endoscopy and POEM get new codes and payments: CMS accepted new CPT codes for colon capsule endoscopy (CCE) and peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

CMS’s proposed CCE value of 2.41 physician work relative value units (wRVUs) reflects the recommendation of the American Medical Association RVS Update Committee (RUC), which is based on data from physicians who perform the procedure. The proposed national-level physician payments are $116.52 for the professional component and $664.21 for the technical component.

However, CMS did not accept the RUC’s recommendation of 15.50 wRVUs for POEM and, instead, proposed that POEM is similar in work to hemodialysis access CPT code 36819, which has a wRVU of 13.29 and a payment of $792.82. The RUC’s valuation of 15.50 wRVUs was based on data from nearly 120 physicians who perform POEM, and we are disappointed CMS chose to reject the robust survey data. The GI societies will defend the 15.50 wRVU in our comments.

The proposed facility fee for POEM is $3,160.76 in the hospital outpatient setting and $1,848.32 in the ASC. CMS’s proposed facility fee for colon capsule endoscopy is $814.44 in the hospital outpatient setting.

CMS moves physicians to MVPs and plans to phase out MIPS: CMS proposes to revise and phase out the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and move physicians towards the MIPS Value Pathways (MVPs) system beginning in the 2023 performance year (PY). No GI MVPs were proposed for PY 2023. The GI societies are working with CMS as they develop MVPs to ensure any gastroenterology-related MVPs do not harm gastroenterologists.

CMS is statutorily required to weigh the MIPS Cost and Quality performance categories equally beginning with PY 2022. The proposed PY 2022 MIPS performance categories are:

  • Quality: 30%.
  • Cost: 30%.
  • Promoting Interoperability: 25% (no change from 2021).
  • Improvement Activities: 15% (no change from 2021).

CMS is also required by law beginning in 2022 to set the MIPS performance threshold to either the mean or median of the final scores for all MIPS eligible clinicians for a prior period. CMS proposes to use the mean final score from MIPS 2017 performance year/MIPS 2019 payment year, which would result in a performance threshold of 75 points and an additional performance threshold set at 89 points for exceptional performance.

CMS keeps all AGA-stewarded measures in MIPS 2022 program year: CMS has proposed to keep all AGA-stewarded measures in the MIPS program for the 2022 program year and accepted the substantive changes for the one-time screening for hepatitis C virus measure we received last year from the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement. CMS proposed removal of the claims reporting option of American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy–stewarded measure for photodocumentation of cecal intubation because it is topped-out; however, the registry version is still available in MIPS.

OQR Program includes colonoscopy measure for disparities reporting: CMS has identified six priority measures included in the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program as candidate measures for disparities reporting stratified by dual eligibility, one of which is the Facility 7-Day Risk-Standardized Hospital Visit Rate After Outpatient Colonoscopy (OP-32).

The GI societies will jointly comment on issues in the 2022 PFS and OPPS/ASC proposed rules impacting gastroenterologists. We may also organize members to take action by submitting letters during the comment period, so watch your inbox for invitations to participate. We need your help to influence change.

Shivan Mehta, MD, MBA, is with the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and is an AGA adviser to the American Medical Association RVS Update Committee. David A. Leiman, MD, MSHP, is with the division of gastroenterology at Duke University, Durham, N.C., and is the chair of the AGA Quality Committee. Neither have conflicts to declare.

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