After initially notifying the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that a specialty code for sleep medicine would be established after October 2011, CMS now says that implementation of the code will not take place until April 2012.

According to information from the AASM, the delay is the result of system implementation issues.

In the AASM’s request to CMS in September 2010, the academy explained that a specialty code was necessary for sleep physicians to take part in some formal Contractor Advisory Committee activities. Among other points, the academy outlined the following justification for issuance of a sleep medicine specialty code:

* A Medicare physician specialty code for sleep medicine will enable more accurate identification of MPFS practice expenses related to sleep medicine services since the practice expenses for physicians who are identified as sleep specialists differ from other medical specialists, even those specialists who work in related specialties.

* A specialty code will assist CMS in its peer-to-peer comparison of services from specific specialties and in claims adjudication. It also will ease the process followed by durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers in identifying board-certified sleep medicine physicians.

* A specialty code will provide a more effective means to identify episodes of care provided for patients with chronic sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Once the code is established, the AASM will issue instructions to sleep physicians about how to change their specialty.