All posts by Kendra Blackmon

NY 3 people-reg

Picture Yourself Here in New York in December

There’s excitement in the air.  It’s December 19, 2014 and Times Square is filled with people milling about, people watching people, a lot of selfies being snapped, tickets in-hand for a Broadway show, and some folks just amazed they are standing in the middle of Times Square in NYC.  Picture yourself here!

It’s easy to do.  Just register today for SMA’s 11th Medical Dilemmas in Patient Care conference, December 19-21, 2014 held at the Westin New York Grand Central Hotel, where we have FANTASTIC room rates!  Physician and nursing credit is available.  Register online or call SMA at 1-800-423-4992, ext. 620.  Now, can you picture yourself here?

Dr. William Beanes and the Star Spangled Banner

Last Saturday, September 13, 2014, marked the 200th anniversary of America’s National Anthem.  Had it not been for the actions of a prominent doctor from Maryland, however, the song may never have been written.

A well respected citizen of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes had been captured by the British for his role in arresting and jailing British deserters.  Francis Scott Key, a Georgetown lawyer, was approached by friends of Beanes with the permission of President James Madison, and dispatched to travel along with John S. Skinner, a US Agent for Prisoner Exchange, to negotiate Bean’s release from the British.  British Major General Robert Ross, who had initiated the arrest of Dr. Beanes, was reluctant to let him go.  Skinner produced letters, however, from wounded British prisoners of war who described their good treatment at the hands of Dr. Beanes and Ross agreed to his release.

The group’s return home, however, coincided with the British attack on Baltimore, and they sought temporary safety on a ship just a few miles from Fort McHenry.  Onboard, the group could hear the rockets in the distance as the fighting continued through the night until early morning brought an eerie quiet.  With the sun rising in the distance, Key used a telescope and spied the U.S. flag still flying.

Inspired by the sight, Key began composing on the back of a letter found in his pocket what would later be known as “The Star Spangled Banner”.  Set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven”, a popular drinking song at the time, the song was originally published in a Baltimore newspaper on September 20 using the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry”.  On March 3, 1931, a proclamation by Congress immortalized the song as our country’s national anthem.

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In-Person ICD-10 Implementation Training from CMS

CMS wants to help clinicians and practice managers, especially those in smaller offices and rural office, to plan and prepare for ICD-10 implementation in 2015. For that reason, CMS will be sponsoring free, in-person training focused on how smaller practices should prepare for ICD-10. Note that these are in-person classes. We have training scheduled as shown.  If you are a coder, biller, office manager, or practice manager, please register for a “Billing Office” class. If you are a physician, NP, PA, CSW, RD, or other clinical professional, please sign up for a “Clinicians” class. In many cities, the classes are combined and the audience is shown as “Everyone.” CMS wishes to thank the many individuals who have worked to host and co-sponsor this training. We could not provide this timely service without your help.

CMS is working on additional classes for Anniston, AL (October 13), Tuskegee, AL (October 15), and Columbus, GA (October 15). If you know of a venue in Anniston, Tuskegee, or Columbus, please contact Keith Gilliam, 404-562-3007 or

If CMS is not providing in-person classes near you, check for webinars and other helpful information.

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CMS Adds Four Subset Modifiers for Modifier -59

According to CMS, they are establishing four new modifiers to define the subsets of the -59 modifier. -59 modifier is the most widely used Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) modifier and can be broadly applied. CMS reports some providers incorrectly consider it to be the “modifier to use to bypass (NCCI)” and associated with considerable abuse.  Modifier -59 has high levels of manual audit activity which leads to reviews, appeals and even civil fraud and abuse cases.  Additional information regarding CMS’ view of how providers use modifier -59 is below.

CMS has defined the following four new HCPCS modifiers (referred to collectively as -X{EPSU} modifiers) to define specific subsets of the -59 modifier:

XE Separate Encounter
A Service That Is Distinct Because It Occurred During A Separate Encounter

XS Separate Structure
A Service That Is Distinct Because It Was Performed On A  Separate Organ/Structure

XP Separate Practitioner
A Service That Is Distinct Because It Was Performed By A Different Practitioner

XU Unusual Non-Overlapping Service
The Use Of A Service That Is Distinct Because It Does Not Overlap Usual Components Of The Main Service

CMS will not stop recognizing the -59 modifier but notes that CPT instructions state that the -59 modifier should not be used when a more descriptive modifier is available. CMS will continue to recognize the -59 modifier in many instances but may selectively require a more specific – X{EPSU} modifier for billing certain codes at high risk for incorrect billing.

Visit CMS Modifiers for a copy of the August 15, 2014 Change Request 8863, Transmittal 1422 from CMS with more details.  The effective date is January 1, 2015 with an implementation date of January 5, 2015.