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Get Back to Nursing Basics to Determine Skilled Services

By Caralyn Davis, Staff Writer - February 04, 2020

With the rush to understand the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) under the Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS), it’s easy to get caught up in meeting the technical criteria for payment—and not pay enough attention to the clinical criteria for meeting a Medicare skilled level of care, says Jennifer LaBay, RN, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA, CRC, an MDS/policy consultant for Triad Health Care LLC in Providence, RI.


“PDPM puts the focus on the primary medical condition that is coded in MDS item I0020B using an ICD-10-CM diagnosis code,” explains LaBay. “However, there is a general misunderstanding about what the ICD-10 code in I0020B means. Some nurse assessment coordinators (NACs) look at an ICD-10 code and ask, ‘Is this a skilled diagnosis?’ That’s the wrong question, and you need to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that an ICD-10 code in I0020B that does not return to provider (RTP) means you have a skilled service.”


The primary medical diagnosis in I0020B only sets the payment. “Specifically, it determines a resident’s default clinical category for PDPM’s physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), and a portion of the speech-language pathology (SLP) payment components,” she notes.