As state mandates for staying at home are beginning to be lifted and more businesses are getting back to the office, volume levels for local ambulance services are likely to grow. While COVID-19 is circulating in our communities, the continued risks to EMS workers remain but services must continue. Moreover, medical billing for these services must continue to receive payment in the evolving environment.
In March, when COVID-19 shutdowns began, the American Ambulance Association held an informational webinar on how local EMS providers could keep their staff and patients safe. In this conference, questions regarding ambulance billing were also addressed.
The full webinar may be viewed here. We’ve compiled a list of highlights we feel most directly pertain to medical billing for your services.
Special Note: The information presented during the webinar was for educational and general information purposes only and you should always consult applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
Notable Medical Billing Insights
Notification and PCRs
Hospitals are required to notify EMS providers who have been involved in caring for a COVID-19 patient. It is important for EMS caregivers to leave a signed copy of the Patient Care Record (PCR) at the destination facility and to be sure to include ALL EMS personnel who were involved in said care.
Telehealth Medical Billing
While advances in reimbursement for telehealth services have been made during the COVID-19 crisis, there are no provisions or waivers that permit EMS to be reimbursed for telehealth services.
Ambulances and “Medical Necessity” for Wheelchair Vans
“Medical necessity” requirements for reimbursement have not changed for Medicare and most other payers during this crisis. Transport by means other than an ambulance must be contraindicated to be reimbursable by Medicare. The reality is that most suspected COVID-19 patients will not need to be transported by ambulance. You may transport a wheelchair van patient by ambulances in this crisis due to better isolation and infection control, but in most cases, you will not be able to bill for the ambulance level of service. You may not bill Medicare for transport in a wheelchair van or vehicle other than an ambulance.
Medical Signatures – Required
As of the date of this document, there has been no change to the Medicare signature requirements for obtaining the signature of a patient as well as signatures of crewmembers performing patient care. In some situations, infection control procedures and symptoms of the patient may render the patient incapable of signing, but the clinical condition and infection control procedures undertaken must be clearly documented. One cannot simply rely on “P.U.T.S. – COVID-19” without supporting documentation.
Outsourcing medical billing for your ambulance services with Outsource Receivables can be an excellent and efficient choice for fire chiefs and municipalities.
ORI’s Ambulance Billing Services Include:
• Comprehensive Coding
• Patient Insurance Verification including payer and patient outreach
• Accounts Receivable (A/R) Management
• Self-Pay Collections Management
• Documentation Audits
• Detailed Report Analysis
• Front-end Education and Training
• Best practice implementation and ongoing support
For a free initial consultation to learn how ORI can streamline your ambulance medical billing, contact us today.