ICD-10 Nightmare Coming, TMA, AMA Warn

Forcing physicians to begin using the ICD-10 coding system in 2014 will create a financial and administrative nightmare for them, warn TMA, the American Medical Association, and other state medical societies in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They called on CMS to stop the switch and work with all interested parties to find a better replacement for the ICD-9 coding system.

 "The implementation of ICD-10 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 quality and health IT reporting programs," the letter says. It adds that physicians already face a 27-percent cut in Medicare payments on Jan. 1 caused by the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, plus another 2-percent fee cut if the federal government goes over the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year.

"Stopping the implementation of ICD-10 is a critical, necessary step for removing regulatory burdens on physicians and ensuring that small physician practices are able to keep their doors open," the letter says.

The letter says switching to ICD-10 will cost a medical practice anywhere from $83,290 to $2.7 million, depending on size of the practice, and will disrupt physicians' efforts to implement health information technology and participate in new delivery and payment reform models.

If CMS doesn't relent or if Congress doesn't force it to, ICD-10 will become a reality, thus TMA advises physicians to prepare for the transition. "Waiting until the last minute or expecting CMS to postpone the implementation date sets a medical office up for loss of productivity and decreased revenue," Edinburg pediatrician Martin Garza, MD, a member of the TMA Council on Practice Management Services, told Texas Medicine in a story on ICD-10 preparations to be published in January.

TMA has a variety of ways to help physicians get ready. For example, TMA collaborated with Louisiana-based Complete Practice Resources (CPR) to develop web-based tools that help physicians successfully transition to ICD-10 and help ensure they continue receiving payments after Oct. 1, 2014.

One of them is the Simple Solutions ICD-10 Transition Software. The software can generate a practice's top 50 codes in a matter of minutes. It can also create coding flash cards of most commonly used diagnoses that physicians can share with their staff members. It allows physicians and office staff members to search ICD-9 and ICD-10 by code, description, and key word; create and save a list of commonly used codes; and develop and print quick-reference conversion lists.

TMA is working with CPR to finalize the Simple Solutions ICD-10 Tool Kit, which includes the software. Contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 to inquire about product availability.

In addition, TMA Practice Consulting offers a variety of services to help ensure your reimbursement doesn't suffer during the ICD-9 to ICD-10 transition. Contact TMA Practice Consulting by telephone at (800) 523-8776 or by email.

Log on to the TMA Practice Consulting website for a rundown of all the services it offers, including the coding hotline and Hassle Factor Log program.

Physicians should also check the CMS ICD-10 website for the latest information.

Action, Dec. 17, 2012