Psychology participates in psychotherapy codes survey

The APA Practice Organization has been involved in a complicated and highly confidential process of examining the definitions of the CPT psychotherapy codes and is now surveying psychologists to help establish work values for these codes

By Government Relations staff

March 8, 2012—In December 2009, APA Practice made the case (PDF, 1.41MB) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the work provided under the current psychotherapy codes had changed such that the codes were undervalued relative to other services in the Medicare fee schedule and needed to be reviewed. CMS agreed to include the psychotherapy codes in the 2010 Five-Year Review, a periodic process in which codes are reviewed to assess their valuations.

For the last 15 months the APA Practice Organization, American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Nurses Association and the National Association of Social Workers have been involved in a complicated and highly confidential process of examining the definitions of the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)® psychotherapy codes.

The codes recommended for CPT were sent to the Relative Value Committee (RUC) of the American Medical Association (AMA) to begin phase two, the code valuation process. Psychology and the other professions are now participating in an AMA survey of the codes.

The survey gives professional psychology an important opportunity to report on what our work as practicing psychologists entails – both the complexity of the services and the time it takes to provide them – and how psychotherapy services should be valued. The AMA survey data will be used as part of the process for making recommendations to CMS on Medicare reimbursement rates, which ultimately affect rates throughout the private sector as well. 

A random sample of approximately 1400 psychologists was invited to take the AMA survey online. In addition, approximately 100 psychologists attending the State Leadership Conference March 10-13 are expected to participate in a “convenience sample.”

We will keep members apprised of future developments.

Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) copyright 2011 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

For more about reimbursement, see Practice Central Billing & Coding.