ICD-10 Cost, Timing Concerns Explain AMA Vote

Cheryl Clark, November 17, 2011

The American Medical Association's House of Delegates' vote this week to "vigorously work to stop the implementation" of the "onerous" implementation of ICD-10, due in just 22.5 months, caught some healthcare leaders by surprise.

The resolution was brought by the AMA's Alabama and Mississippi delegations and the American Association of Clinical Urologists and the American Urological Association. It's unclear why those groups took the lead.

But the main concern shared by the members is cost, according to a statement from AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, issued during the group's interim meeting in New Orleans. The cost was estimated to be about $28,000 per physician. A 10-physician practice would spend about $285,195 to make the coding change, Carmel said.

Changing the coding system from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which was approved under a final federal rule in January, 2009 to take effect on Oct. 1, 2013, will raise the number of diagnostic codes from the 14,000 now in use to 69,000, and the number of procedure codes from 4,000 to 72,000, providing far more specificity for classifying types of medical care. The federal rule mandates the change because ICD-9 has been in effect since 1979, before many diagnostic diseases and conditions or medical procedures were even known much less classified.

But Carmel said the 2013 timing is terrible. "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," Carmel said in a statement this week.

"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,” he added.


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