On September 24, 2012, CMS published its preliminary decisions regarding recommendations of the Hospital Outpatient Payment Panel (“Panel”) on supervision levels for certain hospital outpatient therapeutic services.  CMS’s review of the Panel’s recommendations stems from a process CMS created in the final Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Rules for Calendar Year 2012 (“CY2012 OPPS Rule”) in which CMS charged the Panel with recommending to CMS the appropriate level of supervision (i.e., general, direct, or personal supervision) for individual hospital outpatient therapeutic services.  CMS directed the Panel to recommend supervision levels for particular services that will “ensure an appropriate level of quality and safety for delivery of a given services.”

In its first efforts since this process was put in place, the Panel recommended that CMS change the supervision level currently required for 28 hospital outpatient therapeutic services.  Of those, CMS accepted the Panel’s recommendation to change the requirements for 15 services from direct supervision to general supervision because those services do not typically require the immediate availability of the supervising physician (or other permitted non-physician practitioners).  CMS declined to accept the Panel’s recommendation to change the supervision level for the other 13 services, choosing to maintain their current requirement of direct supervision because the service either involves assessment by a physician, or there is a significant potential for patient complications or reactions which would require the supervising physician/non-physician practitioner to be immediately available.  CMS’s preliminary decisions and the specific services considered can be found here.

Pursuant to the process CMS established in the CY2012 Final Rule, CMS’s preliminary decisions are subject to a 30-day public review and comment period.  The deadline for submitting comments on these services is October 24, 2012.  After considering any additional comments, CMS will post its final decisions on the services which will be effective on January 1, 2013.  To ensure compliance with the supervision levels required for reimbursement, hospitals should review CMS’s preliminary decisions on the Panel’s recommendation, and then take note of CMS’ final decisions when those are published.