The Medicare National Correct Coding Initiative (NCCI) includes Procedure-to-Procedure (PTP) edits that define when two Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS)/Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes should not be reported together either in all situations or in most situations. For PTP edits that have a Correct Coding Modifier Indicator (CCMI) of “0,”the codes should never be reported together by the same provider for the same beneficiary on the same date of service. If they are reported on the same date of service, the column one code is eligible for payment and the column two code is denied.
For PTP edits that have a CCMI of “1,”the codes may be reported together only in defined circumstances which are identified on the claim by the use of specific NCCI-associated modifiers. (Refer to the National Correct Coding Initiative Policy Manual for Medicare Services, Chapter 1, for general information about the NCCI program, PTP edits, CCMIs, and NCCI-associated modifiers.) One function of NCCI PTP edits is to prevent payment for codes that report overlapping services except in those instances where the services are “separate and distinct.” Modifier 59 is an important NCCI-associated modifier that is often used incorrectly.
The CPT Manual defines modifier 59 as follows:
“Distinct Procedural Service: Under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to indicate that a procedure or service was distinct or independent from other non-E/M services performed on the same day. Modifier 59 is used to identify procedures/services, other than E/M services, that are not normally reported together, but are appropriate under the circumstances. Documentation must support a different session, different procedure or surgery, different site or organ system, separate incision/excision, separate lesion, or separate injury (or area of injury in extensive injuries) not ordinarily encountered or performed on the same day by the same Individual . However, when another already established modifier is appropriate, it should be used rather than modifier 59. Only if no more descriptive modifier is available, and the use of modifier 59 best explains the circumstances, should modifier 59 be used.
Note: Modifier 59 should not be appended to an E/M service. To report a separate and distinct E/M service with a non-E/M service performed on the same date, see modifier 25. ”
Modifier 59 and other NCCI-associated modifiers should NOT be used to bypass a PTP edit unless the proper criteria for use of the modifier are met.
Documentation in the medical record must satisfy the criteria required by any NCCI-associated modifier that is used.