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May 1, 2005  
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AAOM Announces National CPT Advisory Collaborative Task Force

By Editorial Staff

As a result of inquiries from across the nation, the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM), is pleased to announce the formation of a national task force: the CPT Advisory Collaborative.

Background

On January 1, 2005, new codes for acupuncture services were adopted by the AMA CPT and valued by the RUC. This process involved a great deal of time and effort on the part of the community of acupuncture providers as well as the AMA CPT.

This expansion allows for greater variability in coding acupuncture treatment and therefore promotes efficiency, specificity and accuracy. The AAOM was invited by the AMA to participate in this process along with a coalition comprised of the American Chiropractic Association, the American Association of Medical Acupuncture, and the AOM Alliance.

Purpose

Formation of the CPT Advisory Collaborative is, in part, to prompt collective and broad-based action to correct an error made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that is causing significant and unnecessary harm to patients who utilize acupuncture for their health conditions and to the practitioners who serve them.

The error occurred when CMS published incorrect RVU for the 2005 CPT acupuncture codes. The published RVU omitted any practice expense value for these codes and therefore the final RVU does not include the actual cost of office space, overhead and supplies necessary to provide the service of acupuncture (Reference PDF).

CMS agrees that this was an error; yet they see the solution as eliminating any value for these codes and reducing the RVU value for the acupuncture codes to zero since acupuncture is not a Medicare/Medicaid covered service. Their objection to correcting the error in an effective fashion is based on the vague idea that they do not "generally" publish values for codes which they do not cover. This is not specifically true, as one can see from the exhibit. The current situation provides compelling reasons for an effective correction since CMS is seen as the final authority regarding code values and the incorrect value has been adopted by many insurers in their reimbursement of acupuncture services. Needless to say, if one is reimbursed for a service provided but not for the space and supplies to provide that service it makes the provision of said service problematic.

Beyond this issue, the CPT Advisory Collaborative will be developing a strategic operating plan that will govern AAOM's future communications and participation with the AMA CPT. Hence, the CPT Collaborative becomes the AAOM's advisory panel in its future negotiations with the AMA CPT. This is important in that the AAOM is often required to make decisions "at-the-table" or within time constraints that carry immediate turn-around response to the AMA CPT. Thus having this type of advisory in place will prove invaluable for use in longer-term/on-going negotiations/discussions with the AMA CPT, but equally important, the value of having this type of input on-hand heightens when "real time" decision making is required from the AAOM by the AMA CPT. Additionally, the CPT Advisory Collaborative will provide a venue to educate the acupuncture community of the inner workings and limitations in the new coding process.

CPT Advisory Collaborative

Gene Bruno, OMD, LAc, past president of the AAOM, has been named Interim Chair of this task force. Each state association is asked to designate one representative to act on behalf of their membership base. In states where there is more than one association, one designee from each association can participate. Within its first month of formation, the CPT Advisory Collaborative task force members will nominate and elect a co-chair.

CPT Advisory Collaborative Roles & Responsibilities

The task force will collaboratively identify action items to be addressed and the roles and responsibilities of its membership in administering its ongoing activities.

Meetings, Public Awareness and Outreach

The CPT Advisory Collaborative will convene its meetings via bi-monthly conference calls as well as through a CPT Advisory Collaborative ListServ that includes all task force designees. Public communication will be conducted through:

  • grassroots letter campaigns;
  • news alerts on the AAOM Web site and all other state association Web sites;
  • association newsletters and publications;
  • Acupuncture Today; and
  • press releases.

How to Participate

As identified above, each state association is invited to nominate/assign one person for participation. The nomination/assignment must carry the approval of the association's respective executive committee, or board of directors, and be submitted by the association board or executive committee to the AAOM. The date of approval is required when submitting the nominees' name. To participate, please complete and submit the following information.

Note: An AAOM Interactive Form is available on AAOM's homepage at www.aaom.org. Associations submitting nominees must use this interactive form in the submission of nominees to the task force; faxed or e-mailed data will not be accepted. Required information includes:

Association Information
Association Name
Contact Person
Association Mailing Address
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax
Email/Web Address
Date of Board/EC Approval of Nominee

Collaborative Task Force Nominee Information
Name & Credentials of Nominee
Street Address
Mailing Address (if different)
City/State/Zip
Phone/Fax
Email
Five-Line Bio

The first meeting of the CPT Advisory Collaborative has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 30, 2004, at 5:00 PM (PST). A formal meeting notice will be sent to each Board/EC approved task force designee received by 5:00 PM (PST), Friday, March 25, 2005.

 

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