AMA backs play to eliminate ICD-10

The American Medical Association has come out in support of legislation proposed late last month by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) that aims to ban the use of ICD-10.

In a letter to Poe dated May 14, AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James Madara calls the differences between the current ICD-9 code set and the forthcoming ICD-10 code set "substantial," pointing out that physicians will be burdened financially and administratively by the transition, set to take place Oct. 1 of this year.

"Implementation will not only affect physician claims submission; it will impact most business process within a physician's practice, including verifying patient eligibility, obtaining pre-authorization for services, documentation of the patient's visit, research activities, public health reporting and quality reporting," Madara says. "Furthermore, not only will physicians face the prospect of significant disruption in claims processing and payment during the transition to ICD-10, any physicians who are unable to transition to ICD-10 by the implementation date simply will not get paid."

In a recent interview with Healthcare Finance, incoming AMA President Steven Stack reiterates the AMA's position, adding that a better course of action would be to skip ICD-10 altogether.

"Let's just get to ICD-11 and get it done properly," Stack says. "We believe the problems associated with ICD-10 are so substantial, our policy is we should not move forward with ICD-10."

In a recent post to, Michael Stearns, M.D., CEO of Austin, Texas-based healthcare IT and compliance organization Apollo HIT, predicts that ICD-11 may still be a decade away for use in the U.S.  Stearns helped to develop the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT).

Stack says that, should the ICD-10 transition take place, the AMA supports legislation proposed this month by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) to provide an 18-month grace period to aid providers.

"If Health and Human Services moves forward and implements [ICD-10], then we say, there should be a period in which providers should be held harmless," he tells Healthcare Finance.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health made clear at a February hearing examining ICD-10 implementation that they do not want to see the transition delayed yet again.

To learn more:
- here's the letter (.pdf)
- check out the Healthcare Finance article