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Otolaryngology Coding Alert

Reader Questions:

Consult Medicaid on Interpreter T Code

Question: Is there a code for using an interpreter? Oklahoma Subscriber Answer: Although CPT does not contain an interpreter code, the HCPCS Level II manual offers T1013 (Sign language or oral interpretive services, per 15 minutes). You can report the code for using a sign- language or foreign-language interpreter, says Marie West, CCS-P, CMSCS, CCP, a national coding educator and president of Coder eSource, a coding and compliance education and consulting firm in Edmond, Okla. T codes "are designed for use by Medicaid state agencies to establish codes for items for which there are no permanent national codes but for which codes are necessary to administer the Medicaid program," according to the HCPCS manual. Private insurers may use T codes, but Medicare does not accept them. Example: The Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP) pays $12.50 or the practice's usual and customary charge, whichever is less, for each 15-minute unit of T1013. Protocol: If a physician contracts with an interpreter to provide services in the office "on-call," make sure you obtain a HIPAA-compliant business partner agreement. During the translation service, protected health information (PHI) will be exchanged.

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