• Academy Partners with American Glaucoma Society to Secure New Taxonomy Codes to Help Subspecialists in Cost Measurement

    The Academy is helping glaucoma subspecialists voluntarily distinguish themselves from other ophthalmologists in Medicare and possibly other insurance company data. These special designations may position subspecialists for fairer cost assessment under Medicare. Last week, the National Uniform Claim Committee heeded the request of the Academy and the American Glaucoma Society to create new, voluntary taxonomy codes for glaucoma that will take effect April 1, 2017. This is part of our ongoing effort to prepare ophthalmology for Medicare’s new value-based payment system, which uses taxonomy to provide baselines for resource-use comparisons.

    The Academy first proposed the concept of taxonomy codes nearly two years ago at the annual gathering of ophthalmology’s subspecialty leaders. We successfully gained our first special taxonomy earlier this year for oculoplastic specialists, with others following for retina and uveitis. The Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology also provided support for this broader effort.

    These special designations position ophthalmologists for fairer cost comparisons under Medicare.

    As part of the new, voluntary, taxonomy, a glaucoma specialist is defined as an ophthalmologist who specializes in the treatment of glaucoma and other disorders related to increased intraocular pressure and optic nerve damage. This specialty involves the medical and surgical treatment of these conditions.

    This is important because practitioner resource use will be measured in the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System under Medicare’s new Quality Payment Program. The codes should allow subspecialist users to be evaluated in the future more appropriately among their counterparts, rather than all ophthalmologists. The Academy will seek similar opportunities for other ophthalmic subspecialties, including neuro-ophthalmology, pediatrics and cornea.

    The changes will be published by the National Uniform Claim Committee in January. CMS will instruct Medicare carriers to move forward with new codes in April and no later than July. More detailed instructions for adding this taxonomy to your enrollment data will be available next spring.