AMA Urges Congress to Stop ICD-10

Spurred by TMA, the American Medical Association in late January asked U. S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to stop the scheduled October 2013 implementation of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10) diagnostic and procedure codes, and called on physicians and other interested groups to assess an appropriate replacement for the current ICD-9 code sets.

In a letter to the speaker [PDF]AMA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer James Madara, MD, said the ICD-10 mandate "will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with the quality and health IT [information technology] reporting program." He added that the timing of the transition "could not be worse as many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records in their practices."

It was TMA that convinced AMA to oppose the switch to ICD-10. The AMA House of Delegates adopted an anti-ICD-10 resolution introduced by the Texas delegation at the AMA meeting in New Orleans in November. The TMA resolution asked AMA to "immediately petition the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to stop implementation and development of all new coding and billing standards including ICD-10." AMA delegates voted to direct AMA to "vigorously work to stop the implementation of ICD-10 and to reduce its unnecessary and significant burdens on the practice of medicine" and to "work with other national and state medical and informatics associations to assess an appropriate replacement for ICD-9."

"ICD-10 is going to be an absolute disaster in implementation for the physicians of this country," TMA Trustee David Teuscher, MD, of Beaumont, told the AMA Reference Committee on Legislation in urging the committee to support the resolution. "It will be disastrous for those who are our members, and they will ask, 'Why didn't the AMA do something?' Those who are not our members will say, 'See, the AMA didn't do something.' It is time for the AMA to stand up and say 'no' to the implementation of ICD-10."

He said estimated ICD-10 implementation costs for a three-physician practice are $83,000 per doctor and $28,500 per physician for a 10-doctor practice.

In his letter, Dr. Madara urged Speaker Boehner to reevaluate timelines for penalties for physicians who fail to adopt e-prescribing, achieve meaningful use of electronic health records, or participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System.

"Stopping the implementation of ICD-10 and calling on appropriate stakeholders, including physicians, hospitals, payers, national and state medical and informatics associations, to asses an appropriate replacement for ICD-9 will help keep adoption of electronic health records and physician participation in quality and health IT programs on track and reduce costly burdens on physician practices," he concluded.

Action, Feb. 1, 2012