New Billing Codes for Plantar Fascia Night Splints, Pneumatic and Non-pneumatic Walking Casts

Medicare now differentiates between off-the-shelf and custom fitted type prefabricated AFOs including pneumatic and non-pneumatic walkers and plantar fascia night splints.

Traditionally used codes reflect the custom fitted version and the allowable amounts for both are currently the same.  For devices traditionally billed using L4360, L4386 and L4396, new codes reflecting the off-the-shelf definition most likely apply.

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NEW BILLING CODES FOR PLANTAR FASCIA NIGHT SPLINTS, 150127

Increased Medicare DME Reimbursement for 2015

Good news!! On January 1, 2015, the Medicare fee schedule for diabetic shoes, Moore Balance Brace and Arizona custom AFOs increased. While the amount reimbursed by each DME MAC may vary slightly, the National Fee Schedule allowables are as follows:

Depth Shoes (A5500) $141.14
Prefabricated, Heat Molded Inserts (A5512) $57.58
Custom Molded Inserts (A5513) $85.92

Depth Shoes w/ 3 pr. Prefab, Heat Molded Inserts $313.88
Depth Shoes w/ 3 pr. Custom Molded Inserts $398.90
Custom Molded Shoes w/ Custom Molded Inserts $586.42

Arizona AFO, Standard (L1940, L2330, L2820) $1162.23
Moore Balance Brace (L1940, L2330, L2820) $1162.23

For a complete listing of updated DME prices, including prefabricated and custom ankle foot orthoses, go to:
http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/DMEPOSFeeSched/DMEPOS-Fee-Schedule.html.

Be an AFO Expert – It’s Easy if You Use DME Protocols

Time and time again I am asked the same four questions about AFOs:

  1. When should they be used
  2. What’s the correct diagnosis code
  3. What HCPCS code should be used for the AFO
  4. How much does it pay?

While Medicare does not offer definite answers to any of these questions, it does offer guidance in the form of LCDs, Letter of Common Determination and fee schedules.

SafeStep features free webinars on DME Treatment Protocols and another on Compliance.  To register, simply click here, http://www commande cialis.safestep.net/Members/WebinarInfo.asp.  Recorded versions of presentations can also be found in “Library” section of SafeStep website. Even if you have seen this presentation in the past, it’s worth attending again as codes and requirement continue to change.

In collaboration with leaders of the American Academy of Podiatric Management and other knowledgeable practioners, SafeStep created the DME Treatment Protocols booklet.  This guide offers a step by step approach to devices that will effectively work for the most commonly seen biomechanical conditions and offers guidance of how to bill and how much to charge.  While not intended to be followed explicated, it offers practioners an effective starting point and way to developer’s ones own approach to care.  To get your copy of this valuable guide, cont

Once protocols are established, they should be combined with an effective inventory management routine so that the office is certain to always have in stock products for the most commonly seen condition but not so much inventory as to take up valuable office space.  When effectively implemented into office routines, staff should put possible devices out for the doctor to consider so that easily available to discuss with the patient.  If indicated for a Medicare patient, the device can be dispensed on the spot, no prior authorization is necessary.

What is the Best Way to Measure Shoe Size for Patients Wearing an AFO?

Arizona AFOMost any AFO makes shoe fitting more challenging; the bulkier the device, the harder to fit shoes. The most important concept is the importance of fitting from the inside out. That is, the shoes must accommodate the foot, insert and AFO. Shoe design is as significant as size for effective fitting.

Features of shoes best to fit over an AFO:

  • Incorporate rocker sole if propulsive gait and AFO limits ankle and STJ sagittal joint motion
  • Full contact sole that does not taper in midsection.
  • Firm heel counter that do not twist easily.
  • Removable footbed
  • Removable spacers

Shoe styles determined to fit best over AFOs are indicated in the SafeStep shoe catalog and on the website with an AFO icon.

When sized properly:

  • There should be 1/2″ space between the end of the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Ensure that the shoes are wide enough such that the foot does not bulge the lateral side.

Fitting will be best accomplished in the office with the use of a display stand or with pairs of shoes to try on. When the fitting is challenging or if one foot is significantly different in size or shape than the other, its best to refer patient to store where shoes can be tried on over AFO.

Fit may be best accomplished by removing spacers from shoe with AFO and adding to shoe without.

If foot with an AFO much larger and different in shape from contralateral side, best option is custom molded shoes made over AFO. Entails first molding for AFO and then for shoes afterwards. Custom shoes are only covered by Medicare for patients with diabetes or if AFO attaches to shoe. Alternatively, Arizona AFO makes a custom shoe with built in brace called the Closed Toe Walker.

Falls are a BIG Problem; Become a Prevention Expert and Watch Your Practice Soar

Josh White, DPM, CPed

One out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year.  Falls are a silent killer that most podiatrists simply don’t think much about addressing.   Given the scale of the problem and the prevalence of risk factors, developing a specialty in fall prevention presents podiatrists with an opportunity that can significantly benefit their patients and their practice.

Conditions commonly seen by podiatrists and associated with increased risk for falling include:

  • Foot pain
  • Ankle weakness
  • Limited ankle motion
  • Postural instability
  • Loss of proprioception
  • Inappropriate shoe gear

Other risk factors podiatrists should be cognizant of include: dizziness, history of falls or near falls, peripheral neuropathy, impaired balance and drug interactions.  If any of these conditions are determined, a more comprehensive fall risk assessment is indicated.  See the sample podiatric fall risk evaluation form.

Balance and walking speed gradually decline with age.  This is attributable to decreased muscle mass and is exacerbated by reduced activity level. Weakening of the anterior tibialis muscle decreases the body’s ability to maintain balance and may affect the timing of toe clearance during the swing phase of gait.  Tripping can result from the toe catching on the floor.  Postural sway relates to the constant displacement and correction of the body’s center of gravity over it’s base of support.  Decreased muscle strength, particularly with decreased sensation can lead to increased postural sway and increase one’s risk for falling.

No assistive device is as effective at decreasing the likelihood of falls as a walker.  Patients though are often resistant to accepting such a device or a cane.  Unfortunately, the impetus to use a canes or walker often comes only after a fall occurs.   Ankle foot orthoses improve stability by reducing postural sway, increasing sensorimotor feedback and thus improving proprioception.   AFOs are only effective when worn and pose patient compliance issues relative to ease of use, impact on shoes that can be worn, comfort and appearance.  Fortunately, improved AFO designs fit more easily into shoes, are lightweight, offer ease of closure and still address risk factors that can contribute to increased risk for falling.

Medicare policy makes clear that patients documented to have orthopedic risk factors for falls are covered for custom AFO’s.  The Medicare LCD states that to be covered, an item must “be reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member”.  The Medicare Benefit Policy Manual states that appliances are covered when “used for the purpose of supporting a weak or deformed body member or restricting or eliminating motion in a diseased or injured part of the body.”  If biomechanical examination determines any of the following diagnoses to be present, clinical indications demonstrating medical necessity are met:

  • Muscle weakness (728.87)
  • Ataxia, muscular incoordination (781.3)
  • Gait abnormality/ staggering, ataxic (781.2)
  • Osteoarthritis, localized primary ankle & foot (715.17)
  • Arthropathy, unspecified, ankle and foot (716.97)
  • Pain in joint, ankle, foot (719.47)
  • Instability of joint, ankle & foot (718.87)
  • Dropfoot (736.79)
  • Hemiplegia (438.20)

Fall prevention requires a comprehensive approach to care of which custom AFOs may be one component.  Based on podiatric fall risk assessment, the podiatrist should consider prescription of primary and ancillary services.  Such services and conditions that each may address include:

Physical / Occupational Therapy :

  • history of falls
  • sensory deficits
  • muscle weakness
  • poor balance

Primary Care:

  • vestibular abnormalities
  • medication interactions
  • history of seizures
  • history of hypotension

Home Health Care

  • difficulty leaving the home
  • Muscle weakness
  • hearing loss
  • vision loss

By providing appropriate intervention, podiatrists can assume a leading role in a multidisciplinary approach to care.

Summary

There are some basic steps that podiatrists can take to develop a fall prevention program:

  1. Create awareness within ones’s practice regarding the risk of falls and that the office is committed to offering appropriate preventative care.  Consider informational brochures and office posters.
  2. Speak to community groups about the role of intervention to reduce patient risk.
  3. Network with other physicians and specialists including physical therapists, occupational therapists and home healthcare workers to promote a team approach to care.
  4. Perform fall risk assessment and consider use of balance AFO if appropriate risk factors are determined.

There is no simple fall prevention strategy that will work for all patients.  As falls result from of a complex interaction of intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors, interventions require a multi-faceted approach. A strong fall prevention strategy that encompasses a number of interventions and targets multiple risk factors is more likely to be successful.