AMA House of Delegates

"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. Photo by Ted Grudzinski / AMA

AMA hoping to stop ICD-10 use in billing

Association delegates agree on a resolution to oppose the switch to the new diagnosis coding set.

By Charles Fiegl — Posted Nov. 28, 2011

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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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Meeting notes: Medical ethics

Issue: As many as 600 potential HIV-positive cadaveric organ donors die each year, but federal law bars any organ transplantation from HIV-infected patients. As many as 1,000 HIV-infected patients could benefit from receiving organs from these deceased patients.

Proposed action: Support amending federal law to allow for research on both the risks and benefits of HIV-infected organ donation to HIV-positive patients who knowingly accept the organs. [Adopted]

Issue: Pregnancy-counseling centers operated by people who oppose abortion often do not mention in their advertisements that they do not offer abortion services and will not provide referrals for such services.

Proposed action: Support that any pregnancy center disclose on site and in its advertising whether it provides or refers for birth control or abortion, and also disclose which services it does provide. Advocate that any pregnancy center follow health information privacy laws and be staffed by qualified, licensed personnel. [Adopted]

Issue: Health care spending is approaching 20% of U.S. gross domestic product, posing a burden on taxpayers and patients and impeding access to care. Physicians' decisions regarding care play a role in those costs.

Proposed action: Adopt ethics policy emphasizing physicians' duty to act as responsible stewards in health care, basing decisions on evidence and choosing less costly options when they are of similar benefit to more expensive choices. [Referred]

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