Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Devices - Supplier Frequency Asked Questions - REVISED November 2010

Original Effective Date: 06/04/2009
Revision Effective Date: 11/01/2013

Question 15 has been updated.

Ordering/Treating Physician Issues

1. Question: The LCD uses the term "treating physician" in various places. What is the definition of a treating physician?
Medicare statute defines treating physician as one "…who furnishes a consultation or treats the beneficiary for a specific medical problem and who uses the [diagnostic x-ray tests, diagnostic laboratory tests and other diagnostic tests] results in the management of the beneficiary's specific medical problem." In a scenario where the beneficiary visits their primary care provider (PCP) who then refers the beneficiary to a sleep specialist for a polysomnogram and subsequent treatment with PAP and follow-up, both the PCP and the sleep specialist would be considered a "treating physician" within the context of Medicare regulations. Both physicians are engaged in diagnosing and treating the beneficiary for sleep disordered breathing. This scenario is quite common in medical practice where the primary medical care for the patient is rendered by the PCP and subspecialty physician consultation is engaged for specific diagnostic and/or therapeutic treatment outside the scope of the PCP's area of medical expertise.

2. Question: Are nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants allowed to conduct the initial clinical evaluation and/or follow-up evaluation since the LCD states this must be done by the treating physician?
Yes. Medicare regulations provide for the use of nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants in the care of Medicare beneficiaries. The Social Security Act §1861(s) addresses the provision of Medical and Other Services as follows:

  • Physician Assistants: (K)(i) services which would be physicians' services if furnished by a physician and which are performed by a physician assistant under the supervision of a physician and which the physician assistant is legally authorized to perform by the State in which the services are performed, and such services and supplies furnished as incident to such services as would be covered if furnished incident to a physician's professional service, but only if no facility or other provider charges or is paid any amounts with respect to the furnishing of such services.
  • Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists: (K)(ii) services which would be physicians' services if furnished by a physician and which are performed by a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist working in collaboration with a physician which the nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist is legally authorized to perform by the State in which the services are performed, and such services and supplies furnished as an incident to such services as would be covered if furnished incident to a physician's professional service, but only if no facility or other provider charges or is paid any amounts with respect to the furnishing of such services.

3. Question: Can a registered nurse (RN) conduct the follow-up evaluation?
No, the treating physician must be directly involved in the follow-up evaluation.

4. Question: The policy states that the data that the physician evaluates must be for a period of 30 consecutive days. The policy is silent on a time frame in which the physician must see the patient in relationship to the data.
The physician may see the patient and conduct the follow-up evaluation between the 31st and 91st day. Continued coverage of a PAP device requires that a determination be made by the treating physician that the patient is benefiting from the use of the selected device as evidenced by a face-to-face clinical follow-up evaluation and adherence to therapy. While the documentation of adherence may occur following the treating physician's follow-up evaluation, the adherence report must be provided to the treating physician for inclusion in the patient's medical record in order to fulfill the requirement to assess therapy benefit. Consider the following example:

  • 11/01/08 - Patient set up with a PAP device
  • 12/05/08 - Face-to-face re-evaluation indicates subjective improvement, but objective data is not available
  • 01/30/09 - Supplier obtains data demonstrating adherent use; faxes to MD for review
  • 02/01/09 - Add KX modifier to fourth month's claim

5. Question: Does the treating physician who does the initial face-to-face examination have to write the order for the PAP therapy or can it be ordered by the interpreting physician from the sleep lab?
The treating physician that does the initial face-to-face exam does not have to be the same physician that orders the CPAP.

6. Question: Is there a time limit from initial face-to-face evaluation to the sleep study?
No time limit is specified in the policy; however, one would anticipate that these two events occur reasonably close together in time, typically within 3 months.

Adherence Monitoring

7. Question: Help us understand the term "visual inspection" as it relates to adherence monitoring. What does this mean and how can it be documented?
The LCD was revised to include allowance for visual inspection based on comments that not all suppliers use devices that allow downloading of adherence information. Visual inspection means determining adherence by looking at information on the PAP device's display screen and documenting the values in a written report. As noted in a prior FAQ, the supplier may contact the beneficiary via telephone and ask them to read values from their device (i.e., phone-in compliance) or the supplier or physician may read the values during a home/office visit. The values must document that the patient is using the device for 4 or more hours per night for 70% of the nights in a consecutive 30-day period.

8. Question: Can we report hours used, for example with information from a device with an hour meter, and meet the requirement for documenting adherence? For example, "Spoke to patient and she states that as of 12/01/08, there are a total of 650 hours on her CPAP machine. She states that she uses the CPAP every night and it is very beneficial. On 11/01/08, the beginning reading was 500 hours. This calculates to 5 hours per night for 30 days."
No. Devices that simply report "device on" time or "blower on" time will not provide enough information to determine that the PAP device was used = 4 hours per night on 70% of nights during a consecutive thirty (30) day period anytime during the first three (3) months of initial usage.

9. Question: Several manufacturers have devices that report "sessions" of use. Are these types of devices acceptable to meet the LCD requirement for adherence?
Possibly, depending on the definition of "session" which can vary based on the manufacturer or the session definition if a user-defined option. For example, consider a device that measures a "session" as use greater than X hours and also reports number of days used. Assuming that a session was set up to measure use = 4 hours, one could use the number of session in conjunction with total days of use over a 30-day period and determine whether or not the patient met the adherence requirement.

10. Question: We use devices from a manufacturer that reports adherence information on a rolling 30-day basis. Information is displayed in a window on the device; however, adherence may vary depending on which 30-day period is examined. How can we use this device and still meet the adherence requirement?
Devices that report information on a rolling 30-day interval can be problematic if using visual inspection as the reporting method. One solution is to engage the beneficiary in their care and emphasize the importance of monitoring their therapy, including the potential loss of Medicare reimbursement for their PAP device due to failure to meet the adherence requirements. In the scenario with this specific piece of equipment, the supplier should instruct the beneficiary to monitor their device after the initial 30 days of use and report back to the supplier the point at which they meet the adherence metric.

Note that most devices that allow one to potentially determine adherence through visual inspection are designed to report adherence information in much greater detail via download. Suppliers are strongly encouraged to discuss the capabilities of devices being considered for purchase with each manufacturer to determine the capacity for reporting adherence as defined in the LCD.

11. Question: Must suppliers continue to document adherence as defined in the LCD after the initial 3-month period?
No. Following the initial 3-month trial and documentation of use =4 hrs. per night on 70% of nights in a 30 consecutive day period, suppliers should document continued use of the device. This may be accomplished via documentation of attestation by the beneficiary.

12. Question: The PAP LCD states "Adherence to therapy is defined as use of PAP = 4 hours per night on 70% of nights during a consecutive thirty (30) day period anytime during the first three (3) months of initial usage." Can you please clarify whether the = 4 hours per night is continuous use or cumulative use in a 24 hour period? Would a patient who uses the device for 4 hours a night, but has a break in usage of 45 minutes still satisfy the requirements of the LCD?
The = 4 hours per night is based on continuous use, with allowances for short breaks (e.g., toileting).

13. Question: A patient was placed on PAP therapy and during the course of their 12 week trial period they were hospitalized for two weeks. How does this impact the requirement for adherence monitoring and timing of the face-to-face follow-up evaluation?
The 12 week trial period applies to PAP use in the home setting. If a patient is admitted to an inpatient hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF), the trial period is suspended. The trial period, including the requirement for adherence monitoring and the timing of the face-to-face re-evaluation (i.e., between the 31st and 91st day) resumes when the patient returns home.

14. Question: Can continued coverage of PAP therapy be extended to patients who come close to meeting the adherence metric requirements but don't quite achieve all of them in the 90 day timeframe?
No. All of the requirements must be met within the 90 day time frame. CMS' national coverage determination contained specific language that benefit from PAP therapy must be demonstrated in the first 12 weeks in order to provide continued coverage beyond that time. Compliance is a major issue with CPAP; failure of therapy is often related to mask fit, humidification, ramp time, etc. Most of these issues arise in the first few days of treatment and must be aggressively addressed by the supplier and/or treating physician. Even if that takes 4-6 weeks there is still adequate time to achieve the liberal local coverage determination metric of = 4 hours per night on 70% of the nights in a 30 day period.

Reimbursement Issues

15. Question: A patient received a CPAP device paid for by fee for service (FFS) Medicare in 1998 and now needs to replace their device. Do they have to get a face-to-face evaluation, a new sleep study and meet the other requirements in the new LCD?
If a PAP device is replaced during the 5 year reasonable useful lifetime (RUL) because of loss, theft, or irreparable damage due to a specific incident, there is no requirement for a new clinical evaluation, sleep test, or trial period.

If a PAP device is replaced following the 5 year RUL, there must be a face-to-face evaluation by their treating physician that documents that the beneficiary continues to use and benefit from the PAP device. There is no requirement for a new sleep test or trial period.

16. Question: A patient was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and received a PAP device paid for by private insurance. The patient is now enrolled in FFS Medicare and needs a replacement PAP device and/or accessories. What is required for coverage?
For beneficiaries who received a PAP device prior to enrollment in FFS Medicare and are now seeking Medicare coverage of either a replacement PAP device and/or accessories, both of the following coverage requirements must be met:

  • Sleep test – There must be documentation that the beneficiary had a sleep test, prior to FFS Medicare, that meets the FFS Medicare AHI/RDI coverage criteria in effect at the time that the beneficiary seeks a replacement PAP device and/or accessories; and,
  • Clinical Evaluation – Following enrollment in FFS Medicare, the beneficiary must have a face-to-face evaluation by their treating physician who documents in the beneficiary's medical record that:
    • The beneficiary has a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea; and,
    • The beneficiary continues to use the PAP device.

If either criteria 1 or 2 above are not met, the claim will be denied as not medically necessary. The supplier may hold claims, pending confirmation that the above requirements are met, and then submit claims with the KX modifier beginning with the date of the beneficiary's enrollment in FFS Medicare.

17. Question: DME company ABC conducts home sleep tests and then refers patients to DME company XYZ for PAP therapy after the physician makes the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Since the two companies are not related and DME company XYZ did not conduct the home sleep test, is DME company XYZ allowed to dispense the PAP device based on this test?
No, a DME supplier is not a qualified provider of laboratory services; therefore, this is not a valid test for Medicare purposes. According to the PAP LCD, "No aspect of an HST [home sleep test], including but not limited to delivery and/or pickup of the device, may be performed by a DME supplier. This prohibition does not extend to the results of studies conducted by hospitals certified to do such tests."

18. Question: If a patient is put on a respiratory assist device (RAD) with less than 30 days left in the initial 91-day period, the LCD indicates that the patient will be given to 120 days after the initiation of PAP therapy to document adherence. If the patient had a face-to-face exam in the 31 to 91 day period while on a CPAP device, must they have another face-to-face exam after they are on RAD? Certainly if they did not have a face-to-face exam in the 31 to 90 days we understand that one would need to be done before the 120th day.
Yes, the patient would need to have a follow-up evaluation before the 120th day to determine benefit from the RAD device. This answer is based on the assumption that the reason the patient changed from a CPAP to RAD is the failure to show clinical benefit with the CPAP device. According to the NCD, continued coverage requires demonstration of therapy benefit within the first 90 days. The LCD recognizes that some patients may require a change in therapy to a RAD device and this transition may happen late in the first 90-day period such that an extension to 120 days is necessary.

19. Question: If compliance is not documented in the first 90 days and the patient then has a new facility-based polysomnogram and face-to-face evaluation with a physician and a new trial period is begun, does a new capped rental period start?
No. Standard break-in-need rules apply because there has been no change in the underlying condition that necessitates the PAP therapy. Consequently, a new capped rental period does not begin.

20. Question: Would it be considered use of a blanket Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) to have all new PAP patients sign an ABN at the beginning of therapy stating that if they do not get a face-to-face evaluation or refuse to get the follow-up re-examination by their treating physician between the 31st and 91st day that Medicare will deny the claim?
Yes, it would be considered a "blanket" ABN if the notice was presented at the beginning of therapy. The supplier may however, after day 60 following the dispensing of the PAP device, present an ABN to the beneficiary if the supplier has knowledge that the beneficiary has not yet met the policy criteria for continued coverage. This ABN should advise the beneficiary that if, by the 90th day of therapy, they do not meet the policy criteria for continue coverage (e.g., adherent to therapy and obtain a follow-up face to face evaluation), Medicare may deny their subsequent claim(s) and that the beneficiary will be liable for payment.

21. Question: What can a supplier do if the patient does not get in to see the treating physician within the 31st-91st day?
If the patient received the re-evaluation at a later date and it was documented that the patient was benefiting from the use of the PAP device, the supplier may begin submitting claims with the KX modifier from the date of that re-evaluation. Claims for services in the interim between the 91st day and the date of the re-evaluation must be submitted with the KX omitted.

22. Question: What can be done in a situation where an order is received for PAP therapy but the patient never had a face-to-face evaluation? Can the face-to-face evaluation be done after the sleep test or after initiation of PAP therapy and will that meet our documentation requirements?
The NCD and LCD require that prior to initiating PAP therapy, the patient has a clinical evaluation and sleep test. There is a sound clinical rationale for this specific sequence of events; therefore, a face-to-face evaluation performed after the sleep test or after the initiation of PAP therapy would not meet the coverage requirements and a KX modifier must not be added to the claim. Suppliers may obtain an ABN to inform the beneficiary that the PAP device will not be covered since the coverage requirements were not met.

            Last Updated Thu, 11 May 2017 13:04:36 +0000