AMA lobbies for ICD-10 delay

The American Medical Association has sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner asking his help in halting the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, reported The Hill's Healthwatch and iHealthBeat.

The Jan. 17 letter, sent by AMA President James L. Madara, said that the timing of ICD-10 implementation on October 1, 2013 "could not be worse." He added that "many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records (EHRs) into their practices. Physicians are also facing present and future financial penalties if they do not successfully participate in multiple Medicare programs underway today, including the e-prescribing program, the EHR meaningful use program, and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) program."

The ICD-10 changeover will increase the current billing codes by about six-fold. According to Madara, it could cost a single medical practice anywhere from $83,290 to more than $2.7 million to make the change.

Madara also asked Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, to delay the implementation of any financial penalties physicians might experience for failing to switch to electronic health records.

Whether Madara's request has any traction likely rests with the outcome of the 2012 elections. The House is currently controlled by Republicans, but the Senate is controlled by Democrats. The Obama Administration has also championed EHRs as part of the Affordable Care Act, although the Republican presidential candidates have promised they would repeal the ACA if elected.

For more information:
- read the Healthwatch blog post
- read the iHealthBeat article
- here's the AMA letter (.pdf)

Editor's note: FierceHealthIT is hosting a breakfast panel discussion on ICD-10 preparedness on February 22 at the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas. Executives from leading healthcare organizations will share what they're doing now to ensure a smooth--and even profitable--transition to ICD-10. For more information and to register, visit the ICD-10 Readiness for Hospital IT Leaders: Lessons Learned from the Trenches website.