Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Revises Rural Health Clinic Policies for 2022

These changes will have a major impact on your 2022 RHC claims. Make sure you review them before filing!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) just updated coverage policies for Rural Health Clinic payments and services. A Rural Health Clinic (RHC) is located in an underserved area with a shortage of primary care providers, personal health services, or both. Medicare pays RHCs for the provision of certain primary care and preventive health services in these underserved rural areas. Make sure your billing staff is aware of these modifications that went into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Currently, there are about 4,500 RHCs nationwide, expanding access to high-quality, affordable, accessible healthcare. These clinics must meet all state and federal requirements, including location, staffing, and healthcare services requirements, and have a quality assessment and program improvement program. CMS did not modify RHC certification requirements, but the agency did revamp RHC payments, visit sites, and services.
What Changed?
On Jan. 1, CMS implemented the following updates affecting RHCs:
RHC Payments
CMS added verbiage to clarify that it pays RHCs a bundled payment, or AIR, per visit, for qualified primary care and preventive health services an RHC practitioner provides. Also added are the following specifications:
We subject the AIR to a payment limit per visit, meaning an RHC won’t get any payment beyond the specified limit amount per visit. For independent RHCs, provider-based RHCs in a hospital with 50 or more beds, and RHCs enrolled in Medicare on or after January 1, 2021:
For specified provider-based RHCs in a hospital with less than 50 beds:
Unchanged, Medicare will pay the full AIR for certain preventive services. For most other services, Medicare Part B deductible and coinsurance rates apply.
RHC Visits
Hospice is the latest addition to the list of locations RHC visits can take place. RHC visits can also take place in the patient’s home (including assisted living facility), RHC, Medicare-covered Part A skilled nursing facility, or the scene of an accident.
RHC Services
There are no changes to Hepatitis B or telehealth payment guidelines. The only change to virtual communication services is the addition of HCPCS Level II code G0071 Payment for communication technology-based services for 5 minutes or more of a virtual (non-face-to-face) communication between an rural health clinic (rhc) or federally qualified health center (fqhc) practitioner and rhc or fqhc patient, or 5 minutes or more of remote evaluation of recorded video and/or images by an rhc or fqhc practitioner, occurring in lieu of an office visit; rhc or fqhc only beside “Virtual Communication Services.” Virtual Communication Services FAQs has more information.
CMS also made the following modifications to care management and immunizations/monoclonal antibody services:
Care Management Services
RHCs may provide general care management services, and CMS expanded the list of Medicare now covers. For TCM, the agency clarified that “Beginning January 1, 2022, RHCs can bill TCM and general care management services furnished for the same patient during the same service period, if the RHC meets the requirements for billing each code.”
Added to the list of care management services:
Immunizations and Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
Now, in addition to Medicare paying for flu, pneumococcal, and COVID-19 shots, it will also pay for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody products and their administration at 100 percent of reasonable cost. RHCs report these services on a separate cost report worksheet, not on their RHC billing claims.
CMS updated the RHC cost report to reflect costs related to COVID-19 vaccines and COVID-19 monoclonal antibody products and their administration. MLN Matters® Article SE20016 has more information on new and expanded COVID-19 RHC flexibilities during the public health emergency.
New RHC Services
CMS also expanded the list of covered services. Medicare will now pay RHCs can for mental health visits and hospice attending physician services when the RHC meets certain conditions. The two new additions are as follows:
Mental Health Visits Furnished Using Telehealth – “Beginning January 1, 2022, RHCs can report and get payment for mental health visits furnished via real-time telecommunication technology in the same way they currently do when visits take place in-person, including audio-only visits when the patient isn’t capable of, or doesn’t consent to, using video technology.
An in-person, non-telehealth visit must be furnished at least every 12 months for these services; however, we may make exceptions to the in-person visit requirement based on patient circumstances (with the reason documented in the patient’s medical record) and also allow more frequent visits as driven by clinical needs on a case-by-case basis.”
Hospice Attending Physician Services Payment – “Beginning January 1, 2022, RHCs and FQHCs will be eligible to get payment for hospice attending physician services when provided by an RHC physician, NP, or PA who’s employed or working under contract for an RHC, but isn’t employed by a hospice program. During a hospice election, attending physician services can take place at the patient’s home, a Medicare-certified hospice freestanding facility, skilled nursing facility, or hospital.”
For more information, see MLN 006398.
Learn about covered services, visits, payment policies, and other information in Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 13.
Learn how CMS processes RHC claims in Medicare Claims Processing Manual, Chapter 9.
Author, Stacy Chaplain
Stacy Chaplain, MD, CPC, is a development editor at AAPC. She has worked in medicine for more than 20 years, with an emphasis on education, writing, and editing since 2015. Chaplain received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Texas at Austin and her doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. She is a member of the Beaverton, Ore., local chapter.
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