2020: Year in Review

It’s been a crazy year (to say the least!) – and we’ve rounded up the most prominent changes in our industry for the year 2020 below.

January – New CPT codes were released.  There were 248 new CPT codes added, 71 deleted and 75 revised.  Most of the surgery section changes were in the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular subsections. These included procedures such as skin grafting, breast biopsies, deep drug delivery systems, tricuspid valve repairs, aortic grafts and repair of iliac artery.

The changes to Office and Other Outpatient Evaluation and Management were not approved this year but will be implemented in 2021.

February – The CDC and AHA publish the first coding guidance for COVID-19 patients.

February-April – The COVID-19 Pandemic was declared by the WHO on March 11, 2020. As a result, many hospitals stopped performing elective procedures.  Some of the outpatient and inpatient census went down. HIA took this opportunity to utilize our internal Quality Assurance Reviewers to help provide one on one coding education to our coding staff. Each coding specialist was assessed for problematic or areas of coding new to them and cross-training was performed to help enhance single-path coding skills.   Staff were presented with both medical records, operative reports and other training materials such as HIA’s Action Plans to enhance their skills. This ultimately benefited our clients the remainder of the year.

March – CMS changed the status of telephone evaluation and Management services from non-covered to active for new or established patients during the public health emergency. CMS Covid-19 Interim Final Rules expanded the list of services which may be performed via telehealth.

AMA’s list of covered telehealth services


CMS List of Telehealth Service


CS modifier – Telehealth E/M services (or in-person) that result in an order for COVID-19 should include the CS modifier, cost-sharing will be waived.

April – The CDC in conjunction with the AHA developed a new code U07.1, coding guidelines and a FAQ document to advise coders on who to code the new COVID-19 virus.  This actually became an evolving issue throughout the year.

AAPC National Conference went virtual for the first time due to the COVID Pandemic.

July – The CDC and AHA revise the COVID-19 FAQ as more and more coding scenarios become evident involving this new virus.

August – The CDC and AHA again revise the COVID-19 FAQ with more coding scenarios.

September –The final IPPS rule was delayed by 30 days and was not available until September 2, 2020 because of the pandemic.

October – New ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS codes were effective 10/1/2020.

72,616 total ICD-10-CM codes for FY2021

  • 490 new codes
  • 58 deleted codes
  • 47 revised codes

For FY2021 ICD-10-PCS  there are 78,115 total codes

  • 556 new codes
  • 0 deleted codes
  • 0 revised codes

11 new services were added to the Medicare telehealth services list. Services include certain neurostimulator analysis and programming services, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.


November – The AMA CPT Symposium went virtual for the first time due to the COVID Pandemic.

December – The CMS HOPPS Final Rule was released late on December 2, 2020.

New Guidelines for Evaluation and Management Office/Outpatient services 99202-99215 will become effective 1/01/2021.

The CDC and AHA announce new codes for COVID-19 screening, testing, and history to begin January 1, 2021.  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/icd/icd10cm.htm  The new diagnosis codes are:

New procedures codes were also announced for ICD-10-PCS and listing can be found here: https://www.hiacode.com/education/covid-19-codes-2021/ 

The information contained in this post is valid at the time of posting. Viewers are encouraged to research subsequent official guidance in the areas associated with the topic as they can change rapidly.

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