AFO DENIALS BASED ON “SAME OR SIMILAR”

The DME MACs have recently begun strictly enforcing a long-existing policy, “Same or Similar.” This situation has resulted in suppliers more frequently receiving denials for DME, indicated on EOBs with reason code “M3.”

Medicare dictates that AFOs can be dispensed only once, per side, every five years. The “Same or Similar” policy states that a beneficiary cannot get another AFO device for the same limb within this period unless the AFO is lost, stolen, or irreparably damaged or the patient has a new diagnosis, resulting in the need for a new type of device.

AFOs considered to be within the same or similar category include both custom fabricated and off-the-shelf including:

L1900, L 1902, L1904, L1906, L1907, L1910, L1920, L1930, L1932, L1940, L1945, L1950, L1951, L1960, L1970, L1971, L1980, L1990, L2000, L2005, L2010, L2020, L2030, L2034, L2035, L2036, L2037, L2038, L2106, L2108, L2112, L2114, L2116, L 2126, L2128, L2132, L2134, L2136, L4350, L4360, L4361, L4370, L4386, L4387, L4396, L4397, L4398, L4631.

For example, a patient receiving a CAM Boot (L4386) in 2017 for a stress fracture on the left foot would likely be rejected for a Custom Fabricated Hinged AFO (L1970) should he or she require one for Posterior Tibial Tendinosis of the left foot in 2019.

Details of the policy can be found at https://med.noridianmedicare.com/web/jadme/policies/lcd/active.

The rule is not provider-specific, meaning that if a patient received an AFO from another provider or supplier within the past five years that was billed to Medicare, the claim for a “same or similar” device may be denied.

What to do about it

Providers can easily discover whether their patient has received a device within the past five years by enrolling in their respective DME MAC Jurisdiction’s Provider Portal. Information on enrolling in the provider portals is available on each DME MAC Homepage.

APMA urges its members not to use the NMBI (National Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) and to continue to use the patient’s Social Security-linked number as there are cases in which the provider portal either will not recognize the NMBI or cannot properly perform a “Same or Similar” inquiry. This issue has been brought to the attention of CMS contractors. Once this issue is resolved, APMA will notify our members.

Once enrolled in a DME MAC carrier’s portal, it will take a minute or less to determine what, if any, devices your patient has received in the last five years. The provider portal will provide you with information regarding the date, HCPCS codes, and name of the supplier who provided the previous device.

The Noridian Provider Portal will only provide “Same or Similar” information regarding services provided in Regions A and D, while MyCGS will only provide “Same or Similar” Information for services provided in Regions B and C.

APMA suggests that providers confirm their patient’s legal address history. This information will minimize any possibility that services were provided previously in a different DME MAC Jurisdiction.

APMA urges members to save any information received on the provider portal. Be sure your chart documentation includes the above information and, if dispensing another AFO for the same side within five years, the fact that a new device is required for one of the several reasons stipulated in the LCD. These reasons include, but are not limited to: The device was lost, stolen, irreparably damaged (due to a one-time event); a different diagnosis; change in anatomy (e.g., amputation, significant weight loss or gain) resulting in the previous device being unusable by the patient; or a different physiologic need (e.g., previous device was for a non-weight-bearing situation and the new device is for a weight-bearing situation).

Suppliers may still initially receive a “Same or Similar” rejection. However, a properly documented progress note including the above information may be used to successfully appeal (Redetermination) a “Same or Similar” rejection.

Providers may obtain the redetermination form from their DME MAC Website and/or provider portal. Once this form is downloaded and completed, you may scan the form (or complete and save it online) and then upload the form and other pertinent information, including response letter and your chart documentation, directly onto the DME MAC provider portal.

By using the provider portal, you may avoid fax transmission errors and be instantly assured that the information submitted has been received by the DME MAC. You may also follow the appeals process via the provider portal and read any comments made by the nurse reviewer. While a redetermination must be completed within a 90-day period (once received by the carrier), it will typically take only 30 days using the provider portal.

Providers may wish to obtain a properly executed ABN, should your search of the provider portal result in a potential “Same or Similar” scenario. A properly executed ABN should be specific as to why your services (new device) may not be covered. Information to include in the ABN should include the name of the device dispensed, date of service, name of supplier, and that any new device may result in a “Same or Similar” rejection.

Recent communication between APMA and the DME MAC Medical Directors seems to indicate that the DME MACs are interested in developing new edits to substantially reduce the number of “Same or Similar” rejections.

This situation is fluid, and APMA urges members to monitor APMA.org for future developments.

Reference: APMA.org

SafeStep representatives can help you:

  • Register for Medicare portal
  • Easily check patient eligibility prior to prescribing AFOs
  • Submit claims for redetermination (appeal) either via Medicare carrier website or via fax.

Contact us at info@safestep.net or 866.712.STEP