The Texas Medical Association, the nation's largest state medical society for physicians, is asking its 48,000 members to write Congress requesting a two-year delay to the often-postponed implementation date for ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes.
The TMA's online exhortation, which includes a sample letter, solicits members to “join physicians across the United States” in the lobbying campaign.
The TMA statement from its president, Dr. Austin King, said it is “imperative that you contact your representative today and explain how you cannot afford the cost and disruption of ICD-10 implementation to your business, especially now, when you are buried in myriad other bureaucratic burdens.”
The latest Texas effort is consistent with long-standing American Medical Association policy toward ICD-10 dating back to 2011.
That policy requires the national physicians' organization to “vigorously work to stop the implementation of ICD-10”; “reduce its unnecessary and significant burdens on the practice of medicine”; and “do everything possible to let the physicians of America know that our AMA is fighting to repeal the onerous ICD-10 requirements on their behalf.”
AMA Executive Vice President and CEO Dr. James Madara said ICD-10 conversion isn't hitting physicians in isolation, but is one of many regulatory requirements they must address. Particularly small and medium-sized practices have neither the time nor the money to deal with these changes, Madara said. “I think it's altogether reasonable that we rethink this,” he said of an ICD-10 implementation date.
A two-year delay will push implementation back to 2017, the year in which the World Health Organization is set to unveil its version of ICD-11 codes.
After a series of delays and postponements, the federally mandated deadline for implementation of ICD-10 is currently set for Oct. 1, 2015.
But appealing for congressional intervention to postpone it worked earlier this year for physicians, ICD-10's main opponents.
In March, Congress forced a delay on HHS when lawmakers slipped a sentence into the annual “doc-fix” legislation requiring HHS to postpone the ICD-10 conversion, then slated for Oct. 1, 2014, for at least another year.
The Texas physicians' group has been in the forefront of physician opposition to ICD-10, remaining so even after HHS issued its final rule in August to comply with the congressional mandate.
But while the Texas association is calling on members to take a stand on ICD-10, it also promotes ICD-10 training programs elsewhere on its website.
The TMA Web page features a countdown clock to the current Oct. 1, 2015 ICD-10 compliance date and a warning that “now is not the time to tap on the brakes,” adding that “preparation and education is as important as ever. Implementation strategies should be initiated now.”
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