AMA aims to halt 'massive, expensive' ICD-10

The Oct. 1, 2013, implementation deadline for ICD-10 has been looming over U.S. physicians since Health & Human Services (HHS) reset the clock in 2009 (from an original deadline of Oct. 2011). But despite admonitions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and consultants to get to work on adopting the new codes, not to mention first updating to 5010 billing systems, many providers are admittedly way behind schedule.

The time and expense associated with the conversion may be leading practices to procrastinate with a faint hope that CMS will again delay the deadline. And while there is still no guarantee that the latter will happen, the American Medical Association (AMA) has made it clear that it will fight to protect U.S. physicians from the burden of ICD-10 implementation.

"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," said AMA President Dr. Peter W. Carmel in a press release. "We will continue working to help physicians keep their focus where it should be--on their patients."

The AMA also asserts that the timing of the scheduled implementation could not be worse for physician practices, many of whom are currently working to implement electronic health records (EHR) by 2015. In contrast to the demonstrated benefits of EHRs, the AMA claims that ICD-10 conversion provides no direct benefit to individual patients' care.

Also central to the AMA's argument against ICD-10 is a 2008 study found that a small three-physician practice would need to spend $83,290 to implement ICD-10, and a 10-physician practice would spend $285,195 to make the coding change.

To learn more:
- read the article from Government Health IT
- see the press release from the AMA