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Family Practice Coding Alert


Let Provider Steer Hospice Modifier

Question: When a family physician who is a non-hospice provider performs a medical visit at a hospice patient's home, how should I code the service? Medicare is denying these services as noncovered.

Georgia Subscriber
Answer: You should report home services (99341-99350) with the appropriate HCPCS modifier. For a home visit to a new patient, assign 99341-99345 (Home visit for the evaluation and management of a new patient -). When the FP treats an established patient at home, use 99347-99350 (Home visit for the evaluation and management of an established patient -).

Append the home service code with modifier GV or GW based on:

1. the condition the FP evaluates and manages
2. and whether the physician is a hospice provider. Here's how: If the physician provides services related to the hospice patient's terminal condition, you should use modifier GV (Attending physician not employed or paid under arrangement by the patient's hospice provider). Caution: Reserve modifier GV for cases in which the hospice service doesn't compensate the FP.

When the FP treats a patient for a condition that is unrelated to a terminal illness, you should assign modifier GW (Service not related to the hospice patient-s terminal condition). Important: You can use this modifier regardless of whether the physician works for hospice.

Example: An FP sees an established patient who's on hospice for lung cancer to treat a cold (460). Because the physician treats the patient for a condition (a cold) unrelated to his terminal illness (cancer), you should attach modifier GW to 99347-99350. For the ICD-9 code, report the cold diagnosis (460, Acute nasopharyngitis [common cold]), rather than the cancer diagnosis (such as 197.0, Secondary malignant neoplasm of respiratory and digestive systems; lung). The physician's hospice status doesn't affect the modifier usage. Answers to You Be the Coder and Reader Questions provided by Daniel S. Fick, MD, director of risk management and compliance for the College of Medicine Faculty Practice at the University of Iowa in Iowa City; Kent J. Moore, manager of Health Care Financing and Delivery Systems for the American Academy of Family Physicians in Leawood, Kan.; and Beth Sullivan, DO, of Ridgeway Family Practice PC in Commerce, Ga.