Diabetic shoes and inserts definitely do not the Cinderella story. Providers have always been responsible in supplying the shoes and inserts that are
by Jane W. Bunch

Diabetic shoes and inserts definitely do not “fit”
the Cinderella story. Providers have always been responsible in
supplying the shoes and inserts that are medically necessary for
diabetic patients, but Medicare policy has recently been modified
to verify documentation and fitting criteria for the program's

Diabetic shoes have strict criteria and guidelines that must be
met for reimbursement. First, the patient must have a diagnosis of
diabetes mellitus. The ICD-9 codes for coverage range between
250.00 and 250.93, and must be transmitted as a five-digit code or
the claim will receive a CO-16 denial. In other words, the claim
needs additional information for processing. If this is the case,
you may verify the five-digit code with the
“certifying” physician and retransmit the correct
diagnosis code.

Second, the patient must have one or more of the following
conditions documented: (a) poor circulation in either foot; (b)
foot deformity of either foot; (c) peripheral neuropathy with
evidence of callus formation of either foot; (d) history of
pre-ulcerative calluses of either foot; (e) history of previous
foot ulceration of either foot; (f) previous amputation of the
other foot or part of either foot.

Additionally, the certifying physician managing the patient's
systemic diabetes must be treating the patient under a
comprehensive plan of diabetes care, and confirm that the patient
medically meets all the stated criteria for diabetic shoes.

A physician's order, supplied in the format offered by the
DMERC, must be completed, and must be signed and dated by the
certifying physician. But, the order must be prescribed by a
podiatrist or other qualified physician knowledgeable in the
fitting of diabetic shoes and inserts. This is a clarification in
the revised policy effective April 1, 2004. The shoes and inserts
“must be fitted by a podiatrist, or other qualified
individual such as a pedorthist, orthotist or prosthetist.”
The only exception to this rule is if a certifying physician
practices in a “defined” rural or health-professional
shortage area. Per Medicare guidelines, the prescribing physician
can be the supplier of the footwear.

When billing all diabetic shoes and inserts, a “KX”
modifier must be added to verify the provider has met all
documentation requirements set forth by policy. The LT (left) and
RT (right) modifier must only be used if billing for one unit of
service. When billing diabetic shoes, you will bill a quantity of
“2” for a pair.

On April 1 of this year, two HCPCS codes changed for diabetic
inserts. The new codes must be transmitted for dates of service on
or after July 1, 2004. HCPCS code A5509 has changed to HCPCS code
K0628. HCPCS code A5511 has changed to K0629.

The Pedorthic Footwear Association (PFA) has requested that the
descriptors for SADMERC's two new K codes be modified so that the
inserts can be accommodated to existing medical policy descriptions
for the A5500 and the A5501 diabetic shoes. PFA feels there are
discrepancies between the old and new HCPCS codes for the inserts
that could lead to patient complications, such as possible
amputation and foot ulcers. Each patient has a unique situation,
and pedorthists need the flexibility to determine what is best for
their patients.

Of the 16 million Americans with diabetes, 25 percent are
estimated to develop foot problems related to the disease. Alarming
statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
from 2000-2001, estimate that 82,000 lower limb amputations due to
diabetes occur every year. Most experts agree that most are
preventable with comprehensive foot care programs, including
footwear that is properly fit.

Jane Bunch is CEO of Kennesaw, Ga.-based JB&CS, Inc. A
reimbursement specialist, Bunch delivers educational seminars
worldwide, helps develop corporate compliance plans and serves as a
consultant for fraud and abuse cases. She can be reached at
678/445-1221 or via e-mail at