The CPT Process

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) was first developed and published by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1966. The original purpose of CPT was to standardize the categorization of the types of services provided by physicians. We are currently using the 4th Edition of CPT, CPT-4. Originally, CPT was not intended to be utilized for purposes of reimbursement.

In 1983, the Health Care Financing Administration, now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), mandated CPT be used for Medicare billing along with their system, Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS). Today, most third party payors also require that practices report CPT codes when billing for visits and procedures.

The AGA works cooperatively with the ACG and ASGE to establish and/or revise CPT codes for new/existing procedures relevant to the practice of gastroenterology. In recent years, the societies have introduced over 60 codes through the CPT Editorial Panel. Representatives and advisors from the three GI societies are in constant communication and attend the three CPT Editorial Panel meetings held each year.

Anyone can submit a proposal to the AMA for a new or revised CPT code. The GI societies are constantly engaged with members, industry, payors and other stakeholders to review the CPT code set and determine appropriate timing for recommending any code additions, revisions or deletions. Learn more about the process.

CPT Codes Are Divided into Three Categories

Category I CPT codes must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • The service/procedure has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the specific use of devices or drugs.
  • The suggested procedure/service is a distinct service performed by many physicians/practitioners across the United States.
  • The clinical efficacy of the service/procedure is well established and documented in U.S. peer review literature.
  • The suggested service/procedure is neither a fragmentation of an existing procedure/service nor currently reportable by one or more existing codes.
  • The suggested service/procedure is not requested as a means to report extraordinary circumstances related to the performance of a procedure/service already having a specific CPT code.

Category II CPT codes are reserved for codes used to report performance and quality measures.

Category III CPT codes must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • A protocol of the study or procedures being performed.
  • Support from the specialties who would use this procedure.
  • Availability of United States peer-reviewed literature for examination by the Editorial Panel.
  • Descriptions of current United States trials outlining the efficacy of the procedure.

If applying for a Category I or Category III code, the CPT Editorial Panel votes and determines into which category the code(s) should be assigned.

Have a coding question? Check the AGA Coding FAQ’s or Contact the AGA Coding and Billing Corner.

More information about CPT can be found at the AMA Web site.

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