Archive for July 9th, 2012

July 9, 2012

401.9 is still valid … just not case-mix

I recently received a query on hypertension codes. A client was saying that 401.9 and 401.0 are no longer legitimate, as of January 2012, but coding books ordered after that have these codes.

My response is below:

The coding manual is correct. The codes are valid codes. The coding guidelines have not changed on using 401.9 and 401.1. If the patient has hypertension and there is 1) no stated or implied relationship documented by the physician between the hypertension and heart failure and 2) no chronic kidney disease or renal sclerosis, then the 401 category is correct for hypertension.

Furthermore, if the 401 category is correct (as is usual), then 4th digit 9 (unspecified) is usually correct because the physician doesn’t specify benign or malignant.

What did change is the case-mix status of 401.9 and 401.1. Those two codes are no longer case mix meaning they do not earn points. But alas, do not be discouraged. Many patients who have hypertension also have CAD, chronic ischemia, heart failure or the like, and those diagnoses earn the same points that 401.9 and 401.1 used to earn.

Continue to code hypertension when it is pertinent to your POC. The codes ARE allowed. What is important is to NOT change the code you use for HTN just to get points. CMS is looking for that type of behavior.

The coding manuals were published prior to the final rule from CMS on case-mix status so all you’ll need to do to update your manual is to write “NO $” next to those two codes.

 

Tags: , , , ,