OIG Calls for Cuts in Medicare Rates for Back Orthoses

The OIG is calling on CMS to lower Medicare payment for certain back orthosis products, either by subjecting these products to the Medicare durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program or by making an inherent reasonableness adjustment. This recommendation stems from the OIG’s findings that Medicare payment amounts far exceeded supplier acquisition costs for lumbar-sacral orthoses billed under L0631. Specifically, between July 2010 and June 2011, the average Medicare-allowed amount for L0631 was $919, compared to the average supplier acquisition cost of $191, resulting in Medicare paying an estimated $37 million more than supplier costs. Moreover, while the code descriptor for L0631 references fitting and adjustment services, the OIG found that for 33% of claims the supplier did not report providing such services, and only 7% of suppliers reported providing any additional services other than general instructions. CMS agreed that Medicare payments for back orthoses billed under HCPCS code L0631 “should be adjusted to more closely reflect the supplier’s acquisition costs for the device and the level of service provided when furnishing the device.” CMS indicated that it would be pursing competitive bidding rather than an inherent reasonableness adjustment, noting that it is working to finalize its classification of HCPCS codes that may be considered to be “off-the-shelf” orthotics and subject to DMEPOS competitive bidding.

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