AMA Hoping to Stop ICD-10 Use in Billing

From American Medical News by Charles Feigl

Citing significant burdens to physicians, the American Medical Association approved policy that vigorously opposes the nationwide transition to the new diagnosis coding set known as ICD-10.

At its Interim Meeting in November, the AMA House of Delegates adopted a resolution to work to stop implementation of ICD-10, which would be used in place of the current ICD-9 standard for billing medical services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will require all health professionals and facilities to transition to ICD-10 by October 2013. Physicians typically bill for services using CPT codes but must use ICD codes to record patient diagnoses.

The change would force practices to learn roughly 69,000 new codes. ICD-9 has about 14,000 codes. The Medical Group Management Assn. estimates that implementing ICD-10 would cost a three-physician practice $85,000.

“The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients’ care,” said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD. “At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our health care dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions.”

The American Health Information Management Assn. favors the switch to ICD-10 and opposes the new AMA policy, said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. ICD-10 is used around the world and aligns better with newer value-based payment models, she said.

But physicians insisted that the mandated change comes at a bad time for practices. Physicians are in the process of adopting electronic medical record technology and attempting to meet quality reporting requirements.

The medical community also might be better off waiting for the release of the next coding set, ICD-11, which could be just a few years away, said Chris Pittman, MD, of Tampa, Fla., an alternate delegate for the American College of Phlebology.

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