Ambulance providers are required to obtain a Physician Certification Statement (PCS) from the patient's attending physician for non-emergency ambulance trips from a facility under the direct care of a physician (CAH, SNF, etc.)
Ambulance providers must obtain the Physician Certification Statement (PCS)
The patient's attending physician must sign the PCS unless the physician is unavailable in which case the ambulance provider must obtain a Non-physician Certification Statement (NCS) from a:
Physician Assistant (PA)
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Registered Nurse (RN)
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
who must be employed by the hospital or facility where the patient is being treated and from which the patient is being transported and has personal knowledge of the patient's condition at the time the ambulance transport is ordered.
The statement need not be a stand-alone document and no specific format or title is required. In all cases, the provider or supplier must keep appropriate documentation on file and, upon request, present it to the contractor. The presence of the physician or non-physician certification statement or signed return receipt does not alone demonstrate that the ambulance transport was medically necessary. All other program criteria must be met in order for payment to be made.
Coverage of ambulance services.
(a). Basic rules. Medicare Part B covers ambulance services if the following conditions are met:
(1) The supplier meets the applicable vehicle, staff, and billing and reporting requirements of § 410.41 and the service meets the medical necessity and origin and destination requirements of paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section.
(2) Medicare Part A payment is not made directly or indirectly for the services.
(b) Levels of service. Medicare covers the following levels of ambulance service, which are defined in § 414.605 of this chapter:
(1) Basic life support (BLS) (emergency and nonemergency).
(2) Advanced life support, level 1 (ALS1) (emergency and nonemergency).
(3) Advanced life support, level 2 (ALS2).
(4) Paramedic ALS intercept (PI).
(5) Specialty care transport (SCT).
(6) Fixed wing transport (FW).
(7) Rotary wing transport (RW).
(c) Paramedic ALS intercept services. Paramedic ALS intercept services must meet the following requirements:
(1) Be furnished in an area that is designated as a rural area by any law or regulation of the State or that is located in a rural census tract of a metropolitan statistical area (as determined under the most recent Goldsmith Modification). (The Goldsmith Modification is a methodology to identify small towns and rural areas within large metropolitan counties that are isolated from central areas by distance or other features.)
(2) Be furnished under contract with one or more volunteer ambulance services that meet the following conditions:
(i) Are certified to furnish ambulance services as required under § 410.41.
(ii) Furnish services only at the BLS level.(iii) Be prohibited by State law from billing for any service.
(3) Be furnished by a paramedic ALS intercept supplier that meets the following conditions:
(i) Is certified to furnish ALS services as required in § 410.41(b)(2).
(ii) Bills all the recipients who receive ALS intercept services from the entity, regardless of whether or not those recipients are Medicare beneficiaries.
(d) Medical necessity requirements—
(1) General rule. Medicare covers ambulance services, including fixed wing and rotary wing ambulance services, only if they are furnished to a beneficiary whose medical condition is such that other means of transportation are contraindicated. The beneficiary's condition must require both the ambulance transportation itself and the level of service provided in order for the billed service to be considered medically necessary. Nonemergency transportation by ambulance is appropriate if either: the beneficiary is bed-confined, and it is documented that the beneficiary's condition is such that other methods of transportation are contraindicated; or, if his or her medical condition, regardless of bed confinement, is such that transportation by ambulance is medically required. Thus, bed confinement is not the sole criterion in determining the medical necessity of ambulance transportation. It is one factor that is considered in medical necessity determinations. For a beneficiary to be considered bed-confined, the following criteria must be met:
(i) The beneficiary is unable to get up from bed without assistance.
(ii) The beneficiary is unable to ambulate.
(iii) The beneficiary is unable to sit in a chair or wheelchair.
(2) Special rule for nonemergency, scheduled, repetitive ambulance services. Medicare covers medically necessary nonemergency, scheduled, repetitive ambulance services if the ambulance provider or supplier, before furnishing the service to the beneficiary, obtains a written order from the beneficiary's attending physician certifying that the medical necessity requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this section are met. The physician's order must be dated no earlier than 60 days before the date the service is furnished.
(3) Special rule for nonemergency ambulance services that are either unscheduled or that are scheduled on a nonrepetitive basis. Medicare covers medically necessary nonemergency ambulance services that are either unscheduled or that are scheduled on a nonrepetitive basis under one of the following circumstances:
(i) For a resident of a facility who is under the care of a physician if the ambulance provider or supplier obtains a written order from the beneficiary's attending physician, within 48 hours after the transport, certifying that the medical necessity requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this section are met.
(ii) For a beneficiary residing at home or in a facility who is not under the direct care of a physician. A physician certification is not required.
(iii) If the ambulance provider or supplier is unable to obtain a signed physician certification statement from the beneficiary's attending physician, a signed certification statement must be obtained from either the physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), registered nurse (RN), or discharge planner, who has personal knowledge of the beneficiary's condition at the time the ambulance transport is ordered or the service is furnished. This individual must be employed by the beneficiary's attending physician or by the hospital or facility where the beneficiary is being treated and from which the beneficiary is transported. Medicare regulations for PAs, NPs, and CNSs apply and all applicable State licensure laws apply; or,
(iv) If the ambulance provider or supplier is unable to obtain the required certification within 21 calendar days following the date of the service, the ambulance supplier must document its attempts to obtain the requested certification and may then submit the claim. Acceptable documentation includes a signed return receipt from the U.S. Postal Service or other similar service that evidences that the ambulance supplier attempted to obtain the required signature from the beneficiary's attending physician or other individual named in paragraph (d)(3)(iii) of this section.
(v) In all cases, the provider or supplier must keep appropriate documentation on file and, upon request, present it to the contractor. The presence of the signed certification statement or signed return receipt does not alone demonstrate that the ambulance transport was medically necessary. All other program criteria must be met in order for payment to be made.
(e) Origin and destination requirements. Medicare covers the following ambulance transportation:
(1) From any point of origin to the nearest hospital, CAH, or SNF that is capable of furnishing the required level and type of care for the beneficiary's illness or injury. The hospital or CAH must have available the type of physician or physician specialist needed to treat the beneficiary's condition.
(2) From a hospital, CAH, or SNF to the beneficiary's home.
(3) From a SNF to the nearest supplier of medically necessary services not available at the SNF where the beneficiary is a resident, including the return trip.
(4) For a beneficiary who is receiving renal dialysis for treatment of ESRD, from the beneficiary's home to the nearest facility that furnishes renal dialysis, including the return trip.(f) Specific limits on coverage of ambulance services outside the United States. If services are furnished outside the United States, Medicare Part B covers ambulance transportation to a foreign hospital only in conjunction with the beneficiary's admission for medically necessary inpatient services as specified in subpart H of part 424 of this chapter.[64 FR 3648, Jan. 25, 1999, as amended at 65 FR 13914, Mar. 15, 2000; 67 FR 9132, Feb. 27, 2002]