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AMA chief throws support behind bill to delay ICD-10, says US should wait for ICD-11

Steven Stack, the incoming president of the American Medical Association, says problems with ICD-10 for physicians are too big

Susan Morse, Associate Editor

Steven Stack, the incoming president of the American Medical Association, says problems with ICD-10 for physicians are too big to allow it to move forward.Steven Stack, the incoming president of the American Medical Association, says problems with ICD-10 for physicians are too big to allow it to move forward.

ICD-10 should not only be delayed, but scrapped, said Steven Stack, the incoming president of the American Medical Association, throwing his organization’s support behind a bill by Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe delaying its rollout.

“We support Rep. Poe’s bill,” he said. “We strongly support that.”

Instead, Stack said the United States should wait to change its diagnostic medical coding system until the implementation of ICD-11, Stack said.

[Also: ICD-10 bill surfaces, calls for delay]

Steve Stack“Let’s just get to ICD-11 and get it done properly,” he said on Friday in an interview with Healthcare Finance.

“We believe the problems associated with ICD-10 are so substantial, our policy is we should not move forward with ICD-10.”

The World Health Organization is expected to have an initial draft of ICD-11 ready by 2017.

Poe’s bill, largely seen as a longshot to ever pass, would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from replacing ICD-9 with ICD-10 on Oct. 1, as is scheduled.

The “Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015” asks instead for a study to identify steps that can be taken to mitigate the disruption ICD-10 would have on healthcare providers.

“Very clearly, the current policy of the federal government is ICD-10 will be implemented Oct. 1 2015. All sorts of other stakeholders have said ‘let’s do it,’” Stack said. “If Health and Human Services moves forward and implements, then we say, there should be a period in which providers should be held harmless.”

Stack was referring to bill H.R. 2247 filed Wednesday by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., asking for a transition period in which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid would accept dual coding under ICD-9 and ICD-10 after the Oct. 1 rollout.

[Also: New ICD-10 bill asks for transition period, but not a delay]

Legislative tracker GovTrack gives Black’s bill a 7 percent chance of moving forward.

Stack, who takes over as AMA president on June 9, said there’s still time to increase the odds.

“There’s an eternity between now and October in legislative parlance,” he said.

The AMA has long been against ICD-10, that is in use worldwide. The United States is among the few, if not the only, country, to use the codes to determine reimbursement to physicians and providers.

“The rest of the world has been on a different variation of ICD-10,” Stack said. “Each nation modifies it at the national level. It is fruits to vegetables.” For instance, he said, Canada has about 17,000 codes under ICD-10, about the same number in the U.S. under ICD-9.

ICD-10 would increase the number of codes in this country to about 68,000.

Under ICD-9, there are 16 codes to diagnose a broken femur compared to 750 ways under ICD-10, Stack said.

“There are many instances we don’t know that level of detail,” he said.  “ICD-10 is problematic, it requires a level of specificity and precision clinicians say we don’t think we’re going to be able to provide.”

Here’s the copy of a letter the AMA sent this week to Rep. Poe, announcing their support.

 

Twitter: @SusanMorseHFN

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