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Review of Medicare Payments for Bariatric Surgeries

Bariatric surgery is performed to treat comorbid conditions associated with morbid obesity. (A comorbid condition exists simultaneously with another medical condition.) Medicare Parts A and B cover certain bariatric procedures if the beneficiary has (1) a body mass index of 35 or higher, (2) at least one comorbidity related to obesity, and (3) been previously unsuccessful with medical treatment for obesity (CMS, Medicare National Coverage Determinations Manual, Pub. No. 100-03, chapter 1, part 2, § 100.1). Treatments for obesity alone are not covered. The Comprehensive Error Rate Testing program's special study of certain Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System codes for bariatric surgical procedures found that approximately 98 percent of improper payments lacked sufficient documentation to support the procedures (CMS, Medicare Quarterly Provider Compliance Newsletter, "Guidance to Address Billing Errors," volume 4, issue 4, July 2014). We will review supporting documentation to determine whether the bariatric services performed met the conditions for coverage and were supported in accordance with Federal requirements (Social Security Act, §§ 1815(a) and 1833(e)).

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
Completed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Review of Medicare Payments for Bariatric Surgeries Office of Audit Services W-00-17-35226;