Mid-level providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) were originally envisioned to provide primary care services in underserved areas. This study details the current scope of independent procedural billing to Medicare of difficult, invasive, and surgical procedures by medical mid-level providers.
To understand the scope of independent billing to Medicare for procedures performed by mid-level providers in an outpatient office setting for a calendar year.
Analyses of the 2012 Medicare Physician/Supplier Procedure Summary Master File, which reflects fee-for-service claims that were paid by Medicare, for Current Procedural Terminology procedures independently billed by mid-level providers.
Setting and Participants
Outpatient office setting among health care providers.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The scope of independent billing to Medicare for procedures performed by mid-level providers.
In 2012, nurse practitioners and physician assistants billed independently for more than 4 million procedures at our cutoff of 5000 paid claims per procedure. Most (54.8%) of these procedures were performed in the specialty area of dermatology.
Conclusions and Relevance
The findings of this study are relevant to safety and quality of care. Recently, the shortage of primary care clinicians has prompted discussion of widening the scope of practice for mid-level providers. It would be prudent to temper widening the scope of practice of mid-level providers by recognizing that mid-level providers are not solely limited to primary care, and may involve procedures for which they may not have formal training.