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AHIMA, AHA back move to ICD-10 as other groups cite high costs

The Advance Medical Technology Association, American Hospital Association and  American Health Information Management Association urged Congress in a letter Tuesday not to delay adoption of the new ICD-10 diagnosis and coding system.

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a switch to ICD-10 by 2011, replacing the 30-year-old ICD-9 system currently in use, but some oppose the adoption or have urged delays, saying it would be too costly.

AdvaMed, AHA and AHIMA officials said the ICD-9 system "simply cannot capture the detail in either diagnosis or treatment that is necessary to make these pay-for-performance programs work as conceived."

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"The time for moving forward is long overdue," the groups told Congress. "The ICD-9 code set was never designed to provide the increased level of detail required to support emerging needs such as biosurveillance, quality reporting and development of pay-for-performance programs."

The Premier healthcare alliance, an organization serving more than 2,000 not-for-profit hospitals and health systems, has also supported the change to ICD-10. In an October 22 letter to HHS, Premier officials said ICD-10 could help improve the quality of healthcare, improve the monitoring of adverse drug events, enhance the ability to evaluate comparative effectiveness and improve the nation's ability to track and report pandemic and public health events.

"ICD-10 coding, with its more robust clinical detail, is essential to efforts to improve quality and the delivery of healthcare services to patients," the Premier letter said.

A study released by the American Academy of Professional Coders and commissioned by 11 professional clinical and laboratory associations, including the American Medical Association, found the typical 10-physician practice would spend $285,240 to switch to ICD-10.

"We are just now beginning to learn the increased costs on physician practices associated with moving to the ICD-10 code set Ð and they are staggering," said William Jessee, MD, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association. "If HHS' proposed 2011 timeframe for implementing ICD-10 goes forward as planned, physician practices will have to cope with a crushing burden of added costs, duplicative systems, and confusion over health insurers' coverage decisions.