January 1998 AAOS Report

HCFA delays E/M codes until July 1

The implementation of the 1997 evaluation and management (E/M) documentation guidelines has been delayed for six months until July 1 by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). In a letter to American Medical Association (AMA) president Percy Wooton, MD, HCFA stated, "This decision does not obviate our requirements that the level of E/M service billed must be medically necesssary and supported by documentation in the patient's medical record. Therefore, physicians should be advised that documentation of their E/M services must, at a minimum, meet the documenation guidelines that were developed jointly by HCFA and the AMA and released in 1994. While we accept the use of the 1994 guidelines, we strongly encourage physicians to begin using the new guidelines as soon as possible so that they will have become familiar with them they become standard on July 1."

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