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Comments Regarding CPT®

August 30, 2001

The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201

Letter developed by American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Surgeons and American Urological Association

Dear Secretary Thompson:

The medical organizations listed below are writing to express their strong support for the American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) process. Our members represent the physicians who deliver health care in the United States. We are extremely concerned about questions that have been raised about Medicare's use of CPT® without recognizing the considerable benefits that accrue to the health care system and the federal government as a result of the CPT® process. A decision to abandon CPT® would have far-reaching negative consequences for the health care system and the federal government.

CPT® was developed by the American Medical Association and the national medical specialty societies in 1966. The CPT® Editorial Panel, the decision-making group embodied within the CPT® process, enjoys the support and technical expertise of more than 100 medical specialty societies and other health care professional organizations. Between the Editorial Panel and the CPT® Advisors, tens of thousands of hours are volunteered for the betterment of CPT®. It is precisely because of this highly collaborative process that CPT® enjoys such widespread support from the full range of physician specialties, CMS, private payers, and other health care providers. We are extremely skeptical that individuals with appropriate clinical and technical expertise would volunteer the necessary time for other code sets developed by either the government or a corporation.

The development and maintenance of CPT® is a model of public-private sector partnership that is both effective and accountable. It must be continued. The unique editorial process encompassed in CPT® allows for a thorough and open vetting of issues and concerns with all the stakeholders. This public-private sector effort is successful because it uses those who are most qualified to understand and weigh the options to resolve clinical and professional issues which are inherent in making decisions about coding.

Hundreds of thousands of physicians and hospital outpatient departments and virtually all of the major public and private insurers now use CPT®. All have made significant investments in software and other products tied to the CPT®. Just as important, both physicians and payers are familiar with CPT® and its coding conventions. To replace CPT® now would be both costly and disruptive to individual practitioners. Changing to an unfamiliar system is not what is needed at a time when physicians and hospitals are crying out for relief from Medicare's regulatory burden. We urge you to retain the CPT® system, which has proven credentials and credibility.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Home Care Physicians
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American College of Cardiology
American College of Chest Physicians
American College of Clinical Pharmacology
American College of Emergency Physicians
American College of Nuclear Physicians
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
American College of Osteopathic Surgeons American College of Physicians
American Society of Internal Medicine
American College of Preventive Medicine
American College of Radiology
American College of Rheumatology
American College of Surgeons
American Diabetes Association
American Gastroenterological Association
American Geriatrics Society
American Medical Group Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
American Society of Anesthesiologists
American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
American Society of Clinical Oncology
American Society of Clinical Pathologists
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
American Society of General Surgeons
American Society of Hematology
American Society of Neuroradiology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
American Thoracic Society
American Urological Association
College of American Pathologists
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Medical Group Management Association
National Association for Medical Direction of Respiratory Care
Renal Physicians Association
Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional
Radiology Society of Critical Care Medicine
Society of Nuclear Medicine
Society of Thoracic Surgeons
The Endocrine Society

cc: William Scanlon
Thomas A. Scully
Laurie Feinberg, MD


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