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Why Coding Professionals?

More on the NPI, the AAPC, Censorship and Quality Health Care

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

pruittFor those who have been following me recently on Twitter (Proots), you know that unlike me, John Hamm has not yet been kicked off of DrBicuspid, and is awaiting a response from Dr. David J. Pettigrew – a dental coding expert with 14 years of experience as Chief Dental Officer for BCBS of New Jersey. I can only shadow the conversation because, as I said, I was kicked off.

Through John Hamm, I sent word to Dr. Pettigrew that he should just shut up and not enter into a discussion about the NPI number. Pettigrew told Johnhamm that I should come onto the DrBicuspid forum and say that in front of everyone. Of course, I am unable to do that because as shameful as it is to my family, I am still banned from posting anything on DrBicuspid.

For real-time developments concerning Dr. Pettigrew’s public defense of the NPI number, it would be better to follow that chunk of drama on Twitter or DrBicuspid. I’ve got other things cooking here. Can you smell it yet?

As you can see, sports fans, I have had Internet contact with a new class of fat, slow-moving healthcare IT stakeholders, and I haven’t been building long-term relationships fortified by good will – if you know what I mean. 14 years of employment at BCBS of New Jersey fails to impress me much.

American Academy of Professional Coders

Those who have studied alphanumeric science have a national organization called the American Academy of Professional Coders [AAPC] which represents business consultants in a growing healthcare niche. Most are employed by providers who are too busy actually performing healthcare to play games with insurance companies for the money owed them. Like SEO professionals who know gimmicks to increase a client’s page rank in relation to competitors, or perhaps a bolus of bad news from a special bastard, professional coders maximize providers’ profits by keeping on top of the ever-changing hoops involved in paying doctors almost all that is owed them following a shorter than average delay.

ICD-10 is Coming 

Learning coding is job security these days because in a few years the mandated ICD-10 codes will force even dental offices to hire IT staff, which also cuts down on the nation’s unemployment. I’ve taken a peek at the ICD-10, and it makes the ICD-9 look like simple algebra. I’d stick with well-trained coding professionals. They’ll cost more but you do want to approach making a profit, don’t you?

Of Censorship

I submitted the following stinker to be posted on the AAPC Website. To their credit, it was posted almost immediately. That could be a good sign … OOPS! Several minutes later it went back under moderation. I think someone is having problems with it. You’ll have to read it to understand why. It’s tricky to let go of, yet if it remains posted, it looks like a concession. Some poor slob in the AAPC is in a bad position. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.

-Darrell

“A recent change to Medicare policy made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) helps ensure claims processing isn’t delayed when the only missing information on the CMS-1490S form is the provider or supplier’s National Provider Identifier (NPI).

CMS Transmittal 1747, Change Request 6434, issued May 22, notifies A/B Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) and carriers of editorial changes to Medicare policy in Pub. 100-04, Medicare Claims Processing Manual, chapter 1 regarding the monitoring of claims submission violations and the handling of incomplete or invalid claims.

In either case, as stated in the transmittal, “If the beneficiary furnishes all other information but fails to supply the provider or supplier’s NPI, the contractor shall not return the claim but rather look up the provider or supplier’s NPI using the NPI registry.”

http://www.aapc.com/news/index.php/2009/06/missing-npi-no-reason-to-deny-says-cms/

“How does an NPI number improve patient care?”

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS – posted on AAPC Website, 6.4.09

Boxing Gloves I see that nobody from the American Academy of Professional Coders has yet attempted to answer my question. Some visitors to the AAPC Website who have followed the comments to the article “Missing NPI Won’t Delay Processing – CMS” (no byline) may think the lack of an answer is odd – that is if they happen to notice. The novice professional coder who still does not know much about HIPAA could easily assume that since the article itself is almost a week old, the lack of a response to my question is nothing more than the natural fading of interest. At some point, people logically move on to newer posts and other parts of their lives.

But I know a secret.

Based on nothing more than glaring silence from anonymous officials of AAPC, I know that my question of whether the NPI number improves care did not go unnoticed by a few knowledgeable and sharp individuals. They know enough not to touch a transparently trick question. The answer of course is:

The NPI number does nothing to improve patient care (Gasp!)

There’s more. Five years ago informatics experts (coders), promised that the ten digit identification number for providers will speed payments lightning fast. When is the last time you heard that fib? I cannot fault abundant optimism, AAPC, but by now you are surely aware that physicians have had to wait for a year or more for payment because of foul-ups at NPPES. Some have had to take out loans to pay the salaries of coding professionals and other new IT members of their staffs.

Improving Healthcare?

And as far as “improving” patient care? That would be worse than a fib. That would be called a harmful lie that upsets me in a very personal way. I know where it is documented that dental patients have been forced to leave dentists they preferred simply because one-third of the dentists in Texas do not have NPI numbers. BCBSTX requires that their clients only see dentists who have the numbers. Otherwise, the client has to pay their dental bill in full and BCBSTX isn’t even obligated to refund the employer the insurance premium. Yet BCBSTX sales reps tell these employers that their employees can see any Texas dentist they choose.

I’m sorry. Sometimes I ramble.

To keep it fair, I will ask if there is anyone who would like to point out the benefits of the NPI number. Your AAPC members and many others, including enthusiastic newbie coders, are interested in hearing from leaders of the organization. Many careers are built upon the complexities caused by digitalization and informatics. I don’t blame you for the complications. After all, you don’t make the rules – you just get along with them really well. It’s like our unavoidably complicated tax code and accountants. Accountants call themselves professionals. So why the hell shouldn’t you?

The Medical Executive-Post

Let me say that I am grateful that you believe enough in transparency that this comment remains posted. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone briefly considered deleting it until they discovered that it will be on the PennWell forum and probably on the Medical Executive-Post anyway. And of course, we can all see that you chose the honorable thing to do.

NPI Fallacy

The NPI fallacy reminds me of a scene in the Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy,” when a character 500 years in the future named Frito is asked why fields are fruitlessly irrigated with a politically-correct brand of green colored sports drink instead of water. Frito, who got his law degree from Costco, doesn’t even have to suffer minimal thought before he quickly repeats what he’s heard so many times, “’Cause it’s got ‘lectrolytes.”

Grnerod finds it incredible that I don’t have an NPI number. “How on earth are you billing and getting paid without an NPI?”

I told him (?) that I don’t work if I don’t get paid. Call me an old school radical.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on the NPI situation? Does it really improve health care, or not? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Blogging Evolution of ME-P

Now a Group Publishing Platform

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]

Solo Man No Morewww.HealthcareFinancials.com, the Medical Executive-Post, has acquired a reputation as one of the most respected independent and investigative voices in the healthcare industrial and financial complex, today. And, we have been called an unbiased educator and leader in the latest medical management and technology trends, as well.

 

In the Beginning

Started in July 2007 and going “live” in October 2007, for most of our first year of existence, the ME-P was the almost exclusive domain of David Edward Marcinko. He published it under the auspices of iMBA Inc. But, a fortunate mix of increased consulting work, speaking engagements, teaching assignments www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com and aggregating industry definitions www.HealthDictionarySeries.com limited Dave’s time to write. Not to mention editing the third edition of our seminal print textbook in 2010, the Business of Medical Practice http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759; and keeping our quarterly premium, institutional e- journal Healthcare Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] www.HealthcareFinancials.com evolving; he is a busy guy … indeed.

Visits and Membership

Moreover, the growth of ME-P readership from a few each day to over 25,000 visits in January 2009, with the interest of other people in writing for us, has all meant that there will be less of Dave going forward and more of the many new [free-labor] authors we are recruiting for our ME-P readers.

And so, in June 2009, the ME-P officially became a participatory bog in which most authors (including Dave) will use their own bylines.

Our Material

The ME-P publishes mainly original material from many contributors (regular, or not) with links and permitted reprints, and with updates for modernity from our repository of electronic archives. Our style is prose, formal or informal, news, journalistic and/or investigative repotage with a hint of insider gossip. If you are interested in writing for us, take a look at our writer’s guidelines on the left side bar page. Consider entering our writing contest, too.

Managing Editor

Hope Hetico is the managing editor and handles business development. Requests for information about advertising should go to Edward. Ann Miller; is our Executive Director for all other concerns. With a flat-organizational structure, our email address remains the same for all of us: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

Assessment

And, although Dave is not sure whether he should be happy or chagrined, we hope that readership will again double by the end of 2009.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

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Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Subscribe Now: Did you like this Medical Executive-Post, or find it helpful, interesting and informative? Want to get the latest ME-Ps delivered to your email box each morning? Just subscribe using the link below. You can unsubscribe at any time. Security is assured.

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