Frequently Asked Questions

Question Process

Question Status

Question Submission

Q. Do I need to create an account?

Yes, you must create an account before submitting a question to the AHA Central Office. The AHA Central Office needs complete contact information in order to request additional information and to send the official response to you.

To create an account, hit Log In and you will be prompted to enter your name and e-mail address. The system will check for potential duplicate records. If any are found, please review or if there are no matches continue through the registration process.

The following fields are required: your name, organization, address, password and security question.

Q. I can't find my tracking number. How do I request it?

Click Request My Tracking Number located in the bottom left corner of the home page. You will need to provide the following information: approximate timeframe question was submitted, method of submission (e.g., mail), type of question (e.g., ICD-9-CM) and brief description. With that information, we will search the database and e-mail the tracking number that best matches the information provided.

Q. Can I submit multiple questions at one time?

You may submit up to three questions per one login session. Each question and related materials must be submitted separately in order to be assigned a unique tracking number and receive a response.

Q. What types of supporting documents should be included as part of the question submission?

Include documents that provide context to the question being submitted. Do not submit any document that contains Personal Health Information (PHI), physician name or hospital name. Any question submission or related document that includes PHI, physician name or hospital name will be immediately rejected. The question will not be accepted nor answered.

Q. How long does it take to process a question?

The time it takes to process a question depends upon its complexity. The AHA Central Office staff will conduct thorough research to determine a response. If necessary, the question may be forwarded to the Editorial Advisory Board for review and comment. In the latter case, processing may take up to six months for resolution. For more information on the Editorial Advisory Board, click here: http://www.ahacentraloffice.org/ahacentraloffice/shtml/EditorialAdvisoryBoards.shtml.

Q. Is there a fee to submit a question?

All questions submitted are processed free of charge.

Q. Are there questions that the AHA Central Office does not process?

The AHA Central Office will not respond to the following HCPCS codes:

  • Inquiries from physician providers related to CPT-4. These questions will be referred to the American Medical Association (AMA).
  • Questions related to A-codes, except those for ambulance services and radiopharmaceuticals, and Q-codes Q0136 through Q0181. These questions will be referred to the Statistical Analysis Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carriers (SADMERCs).
  • The remainder of the body of Level II HCPCS codes related to durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and other supplies. These questions will be referred to Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carriers (DMERCs) or their successors, the DME Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). These codes do not apply to hospital or physician providers.

The AHA Central Office will not respond to the following types of questions for ICD-9-CM, ICD- 10-CM/PCS or HCPCS:

  • Questions related to payment or coverage issues
  • Questions related to interpretation of medical record documentation, such as identifying the principal diagnosis—unless it relates to the application of specific coding guidelines or specific previously published coding advice
  • Questions related to missing or incomplete documentation or validation of what is appropriate documentation (paper or electronic)
  • Questions related to clinical issues or clinical criteria for diagnoses or procedures
  • Questions related to mediating differences of opinion between providers and auditors or payers or any other third party reviewers—unless it relates to the application of specific coding guidelines or specific previously published coding advice
  • Requests for the Central Office to code the entire medical record or operative report or to validate code assignment.
  • Questions or recommendations related to ICD-10-CM Index or Tabular List problems or conflicting instructions. Such questions should be sent to: Donna Pickett, RHIA, Medical Classification Administrator, Office of Planning and Extramural Programs, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, 3311 Toledo Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782
  • Questions or recommendations regarding ICD-10-PCS Index entries, ICD-10-PCS device definitions, ICD-10-PCS Reference manual or the General Equivalence Mappings (GEMS) should be sent to: Patricia Brooks, RHIA, Technical Advisor, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Division of Acute Care, Mail Stop C4-08-06, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850

Q. How do I track the status of a question?

Click Check Question Status and enter the tracking number received via e-mail after successfully submitting the question. If you do not have a tracking number or cannot find it, click Request My Tracking Number link in the bottom left corner.

Q. What is the AHA Central Office?

The AHA Central Office was created through a written Memorandum of Understanding between the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in 1963 to:

  • Serve as the U.S. clearinghouse for issues related to the use of ICD-9-CM
  • Work with NCHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to maintain the integrity of the classification system
  • Recommend revisions and modifications to the current and future revisions of the ICD
  • Develop educational material and programs on ICD-9-CM

In August 2005, CMS and AHA entered into an agreement for the establishment of an AHA clearinghouse for issues related to the use of certain HCPCS codes. Under this agreement, responsibilities of the AHA Central Office includes providing advice on the following:

  • Level I HCPCS (CPT-4 codes) for hospital providers.
  • Certain Level II HCPCS codes.

For more information, click here. http://www.ahacentraloffice.org/ahacentraloffice/index.shtml

Q. How are questions processed?

Please click here for information on how questions are processed: http://www.ahacentraloffice.org/ahacentraloffice/shtml/RequestCodingAdvice.shtml.

Q. Is the AHA Central Office accepting questions on ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS?

Yes. The AHA Coding Clinic will start to publish ICD-10 related questions and answers in the Fourth Quarter of 2012.

Q. When will the AHA Central Office no longer accept questions on ICD-9-CM?

After 30 years of providing ICD-9-CM coding advice, the AHA Central Office will shift its attention to ICD-10-CM/PCS and will no longer accept nor respond to requests for ICD-9-CM coding advice. Any ICD-9-CM questions received by December 31, 2013, will be answered by AHA staff based on existing previously published advice or previously approved EAB decisions. Effective January 1, 2014, the AHA Central Office will no longer accept questions on ICD-9-CM.

Q. If I already mailed or faxed a question, can I resubmit it online now?

No. Please do not submit the same question more than one way or more than once. This will create a duplicate in the system and significantly delay the processing of the original question.

Q. Are questions submitted online answered first or more quickly?

Questions are received more quickly but does not necessarily mean it will be answered faster. The time it takes to process an official response is dependent upon its complexity. Please visit the AHA Central Office website for more information on how questions are processed.

Q. Why did I receive an error message when I entered my tracking number?

Either the tracking number entered is invalid or the question was not submitted online. If you originally submitted your question online, please double check the tracking number and re-enter. If you continue to receive an error message, please e-mail codingclinic@aha.org for assistance.

If you mailed or faxed your question originally, please find your tracking number using the Request My Tracking Number option and in the question description section indicate that you want to track your status. Please consider submitting future questions online in order to track the status automatically.

Q. Can I access the official answer through this website?

No. All official answers will continue to be provided in writing and mailed to your organization.

Q. What do the different status types mean?

  • Closed Answered – This status is active if the AHA Central Office has researched and answered the question. All official answers are provided in writing and mailed to your organization. If you have this status but have not received or lost your response, please e-mail codingclinic@aha.org
  • Closed Missing Information – This status is active if the AHA Central Office requested additional information in order to process the question but the information is not received within 30 days of the request. The question is closed and unanswered. You will be required to submit your question again, and it will be assigned a new tracking number.
  • EAB Assigned – This status is active if the AHA Central Office has researched and determined that due to the nature of the question, it has been forwarded to the Editorial Advisory Board for review and comment.
  • Open – This status is active if a question has been submitted but has not yet been assigned. Each question is initially reviewed for completeness and appropriateness since there are questions the AHA Central Office does not field. Please see Are there questions the AHA Central Office does not process? in the FAQ section. Questions are assigned and reviewed in the order they were received.
  • Pending Additional Information – This status is active if the AHA Central Office has requested more information in order to research and process a response. Please submit the additional information via an attachment within 30 days of the request. If the additional information is not received within this timeframe, the question will be closed and unanswered.
  • Review – This status is active if the question has been successfully submitted, accepted and is under review. The AHA Central Office staff is researching and processing the question at this time.

Q. I made a mistake with my question submission.
I forgot to include the attachment I referenced in the question submitted.
I omitted some important information from the question description section.

Please e-mail codingclinic@aha.org to notify us of the issue. Please include the tracking number. Do not send the missing information via e-mail, nor resubmit the question. Both will significantly delay processing the question.

Q. How do I retrieve my password?

Click here to be taken to the login page and then use the "Lost password?" option. If you are unable to remember the answer to your security question please contact the AHA Central Office at codingclinicsupport@aha.org

Q. How do I change my email address?

Your e-mail address is integral to your login. Please contact the AHA Central Office at codingclinicsupport@aha.org to submit any change to your e-mail address.

Q. How do I change my organization name?

Please contact the AHA Central Office at codingclinicsupport@aha.org to submit any organization changes.