AHIMA rallies for ICD-10

Group rallies to defend ICD-10 after AMA vote

After the American Medical Association (AMA) last week voted to "work vigorously" to prevent ICD-10 implementation, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) fired back, arguing that there are "countless benefits" to adopting the new codes.

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 new codes by Oct. 1, 2013.

AMA's House of Delegates last week voted to "work vigorously" to stop the ICD-10 transition. AMA President Peter Carmel said the new codes would further burden physicians without benefiting patient care.

AHIMA rebuffs AMA vote
AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon stressed that "there are countless benefits that will come from the use of a 21st century classification system." She noted that adopting ICD-10 would align U.S. physicians with international standards, the meaningful use incentive program, and value-based reimbursement.

Meanwhile, Sue Bowman—director of coding policy and compliance at AHIMA—said that the current ICD-9 coding system is not specific enough and leads to delays in claims processing. Bowman added that most primary care practices should be capable of adjusting their administrative systems to support ICD-10 and that specialty practices only would need to use a small number of ICD-10 codes.

AMA's ICD-10 fight: What happens next?
Robert Wah, chair of AMA's Board of Trustees, said the association's board is responsible for implementing the House of Delegates' directive to work toward stopping ICD-10 implementation.

However, Wah said, "Pragmatically, everyone recognizes the limitations of what can be done," noting that this "is not the only policy passed by the House and we have limited resources" and that the board "will be looking at all our options."

According to Wah, the significance of AMA's resolution is that it highlights physicians' concerns with ICD-10 and the need for improved communication about the benefits of the new code set.

Last week, Mike Davis of the Advisory Board's IT Strategy Council noted that CMS has already delayed the ICD-10 transition date—it was initially slated for October 2012—and there is no precedent for the agency deferring the regulatory date a second time. As a result, there are no indications that CMS is shifting away from its October 2013 deadline for ICD-10, according to Davis (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 11/17 [subscription required]; Goedert, Health Data Management, 11/17; Goedert, Health Data Management, 11/18).

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