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ALBUQUERQUE, NM. February 24, 2003. ABC codes characterize alternative medicine, nursing, and other integrative healthcare practices. Maintained by The Foundation for Integrative Healthcare (FIHC), a nonprofit organization, and Alternative Link (The Link), a privately held New Mexico company, the codes were designed to plug gaps in older code sets controlled by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the federal government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

 

"The newer code set offers design, development, and oversight improvements needed to enhance public health and business efficiencies," says Melinna Giannini, a coding expert and FIHC board member. "ABC codes are used in combination with the AMA's CPT codes and CMS' HCPCS Level II codes, and they fit into the same data fields, software applications, information systems, and business processes. The codes work like universal product codes (UPCs) or bar codes in the retail industry to support research, management and commerce."

 

"ABC codes will help the industry better manage care, claims, and outcomes for the expanded healthcare services today's consumers demand," notes Ms Molina. "HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson approved the use and evaluation of ABC codes as a proposed modification to the HIPAA standards.

 

"What the HIPAA exception does is allow for expanded studies of the costs and benefits of ABC codes when used in electronic commerce," explains Ms Giannini. "HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996." The Act requires that the entire healthcare industry communicate using the same transaction formats and code sets to support electronic commerce and administrative simplification. ABC codes were designed to meet HIPAA requirements and allow for more precise and efficient communication about the administration, financing, and delivery of integrative healthcare products and services.

 

"The use of ABC codes in HIPAA transactions does not guarantee payment for alternative medicine, nursing, and other integrative healthcare practices, but code use will lead to more rational coverage and reimbursement decisions based on the relative cost-effectiveness of different approaches to care," adds Ms Molina. ABC codes support comparisons of the economic and health outcomes of conventional, complementary and alternative care.

 

Ms Molina also predicts that ABC codes will result in improved healthcare access, quality, and cost-management, because policy makers get a more complete and accurate picture of US healthcare. She notes that the codes are recognized by influential healthcare organizations, such as the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Oriental Medicine, the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance, the World Chiropractic Alliance, the American Massage Therapy Association, the Midwives Alliance of North America, and Citizens for Midwifery.

 

The Foundation for Integrative Healthcare (http://www.fihc.org) delivers insight, competencies, and tools needed to support rational health, healthcare, and health policy decisions. FIHC focuses on collecting, compiling, and disseminating information on the characteristics and outcomes of care to improve public health, industry efficiencies, and socioeconomic development.

 

Alternative Link (http://www.alternativelink.com) delivers information products and consulting services that help healthcare pioneers lead emerging markets. The company focuses on intelligence-driven infrastructure and analytical solutions that protect and enhance public access to health-promoting and cost-effective healthcare interventions.

 

Individuals and organizations can secure the rights to use ABC codes in HIPAA transactions by registering at http://www.alternativelink.com before Sunday, March 16, 2003.

 

2003 National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Board of Directors

President

 

Janet Fulton

 

Immediate Past President

 

Sue B. Davidson

 

President-Elect

 

Angela Clark

 

Vice-President

 

Nancy E. Dayhoff

 

Treasurer

 

Karen Lyon

 

Secretary

 

Theresa Posani

 

Directors

 

Deborah Antai-Otong

 

Kathleen Baldwin

 

Gail DeLuca Havens

 

Theresa Murray

 

Newsletter Editors

 

Theresa Posani

 

Deborah Antai-Otong

 

NACNS Staff

 

Executive Director

 

Christine Carson Filipovich

 

NACNS

 

3969 Green St

 

Harrisburg, PA 17110

 

Telephone: 717-234-6799

 

Fax: 717-234-6798

 

E-mail: info@nacns.org