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News & Press: Advocacy

Denti-Cal Claims Submissions: Alternate Code for Limited Oral Evaluation (D0140)

Monday, September 1, 2014  
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On March 1 of this year, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) implemented mandatory CDT-4 coding for all treatment authorization requests and claims submissions. CSPD member Jose Polido of Children's Hospital Los Angeles contacted CSPD recently to ask why CDT code D0140, defined by the ADA as a Limited Oral Evaluation -- Problem Focused, for situations of "emergency and trauma," is routinely denied by Denti-Cal when used for this purpose.

As indicated in the Medi-Cal Dental Program Provider Handbook (March 2008), Denti-Cal uses D0140 not for the broad range of problem-focused cases as specified by the ADA code, but instead, for payment of an initial orthodontic evaluation by a Medi-Cal Dental Program certified orthodontist.

According to a representative of the Department of Health Care Services, because orthodontic services are not generally a benefit of the Denti-Cal program, unless required by the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) medical necessity provisions of the Medicaid act (such as in the delivery of care for cleft lip and palate), the Department needed a CDT-4 diagnostic code for assessing such qualification. They choose D0140.

When asked, therefore, what code was appropriate and payable when a limited oral evaluation of emergency or trauma was provided [and other evaluation codes such as that for comprehensive oral evaluation (D0150) or periodic oral evaluation (D0120) were either inappropriate or unavailable], the DHCS representative suggested that for "problem focused" evaluations, providers should use D9430, which is defined in the Handbook as a catch-all, general "observation" code during regularly scheduled office hours in which no other services are performed (other than necessary radiographs and/or photographs)

Members should be aware, however, that Denti-Cal billing for D9430 requires "written documentation for payment" that "shall include the tooth/area, the chief complaint and the non-clinical treatment taken."

If, under the above DHCS guidelines, members experience claim denials, they are requested to contact CSPD's Public Policy Advocate, Paul Reggiardo, at 714-848-0234 or at with the detail.

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