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AMA opposes ICD-10


By Joseph Conn
Posted: November 15, 2011 - 12:15 pm ET
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UPDATED: 1:45 p.m.

The American Medical Association's House of Delegates voted today "to work vigorously to stop implementation" of the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision family of diagnostic and procedural codes, citing the healthcare industry's already full plate for changes and reforms, including the federal push for physicians to adopt electronic health-record systems.

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"The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients' care," AMA President Dr. Peter W. Carmel said in a news release from the association's four-day policy meeting in New Orleans.

"At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our healthcare dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions," Carmel said. "The timing could not be worse as many physicians are working to implement electronic health records into their practices. We will continue working to help physicians keep their focus where it should be—on their patients."

The AMA statement cited an unnamed 2008 study that found that a three-physician practice would spend $83,290 to implement ICD-10, and a 10-physician practice would spend $285,195.

Unlike the federal Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, the HHS-mandated upgrade to ICD-10 from the currently used ICD-9 family of codes provides no funds to offset conversion costs to providers, payers and claims clearinghouses.

The deadline for the switch to ICD-10, which has already been pushed back once, is now Oct. 1, 2013.

The AMA statement did not discuss the organization's stance regarding another HHS mandate, the industry's looming conversion to the ASC X12 Version 5010 claims transaction standards—the deadline for which is Jan. 1. The switch from Version 4010 standards now in use to 5010 is deemed to be a needed precursor to the ICD-10 conversion.

The CMS maintains that it's giving providers adequate time and flexibility to transition to ICD-10. "Implementation of this new coding system will mean better information to improve the quality of healthcare and more accurate payments to providers," a CMS spokesman said in an e-mail. "We will continue to work with the healthcare community to ensure successful compliance."


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