In the News

AARC Prepares Guidance Document on Smoking Cessation and the RT under Medicare

September 7, 2010
An addendum has been developed based on August 2010 changes to the rules.

July 25, 2005
On July 5, Medicare fully implemented a new Part B benefit that covers smoking cessation counseling for certain Medicare beneficiaries who are tobacco users with a disease or adverse health effect that has been found by the U.S. Surgeon General to be linked to tobacco use.

  View the Guidance Document on Medicare’s Smoking Cessation Counseling

To give our members some general guidance as to the ability of respiratory therapists to furnish smoking cessation counseling under this new benefit, the AARC enlisted the services of our consulting firm, Muse & Associates, to perform an analysis by various care settings. It will be up to the local Part A and Part B Medicare contractors, however, to make the final determinations as to the qualifications of respiratory therapists to provide these new counseling services.

Members need to be consistent in one thing, and one thing only. If anyone makes an inquiry to a contractor about whether respiratory therapists are qualified to perform smoking cessation, they must ask the question as follows:

“We note that services ‘incident to’ a physician's professional services are included as a benefit category for smoking cessation counseling. As such, is there anything that would preclude a respiratory therapist from providing smoking cessation counseling as ‘incident to’ a physician’s service in a physician's office or hospital outpatient department if all the incident to provisions are met?” In such instances, we recognize that there is no separate or additional payment made to the respiratory therapist for the service.”

Whatever you do, do not ask if respiratory therapists are qualified to perform smoking cessation counseling. The answer will be “no” every time. The contractors need to be reminded that “incident to” is a Part B benefit category.

“We believe the care setting analysis shows that RTs could qualify to provide smoking cessation services in a variety of settings, including physicians’ offices and the hospital outpatient setting. While RTs won’t be able to bill directly for these services or receive additional payment, only Part B providers can do that, we think this new benefit will showcase the value of the respiratory therapists in providing this important health service,” said Cheryl West, Director of Government Affairs at the AARC.

The guidance document is available in our Advocacy section under Federal Government Affairs.

Guidance Document on Medicare’s Smoking Cessation Counseling