Bill in U.S. House Would #StopICD10

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), supported by six of his Republican colleagues including Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Ala.) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R.-Ala.), has introduced a bill to block the government-mandated transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 diagnostic codes set to take effect Oct. 1.

Dubbed the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, the legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from requiring the medical community to comply with the ICD-10 codes and instead allow the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct a study by consulting with medical community stakeholders to determine steps to “mitigate the disruption on health care providers resulting from a replacement of ICD-9 as such a standard,” according to a new article from Medscape Medical News.

“The new ICD-10 codes will not make one patient healthier,” Rep. Poe said in a news release. “What it will do is put an unnecessary strain on the medical community who should be focused on treating patients, not implementing a whole new bureaucratic language.”

Critics of the legislation argue the legislation will go no further than its predecessor in April 2013, which failed to get out of committee. While the medical community made a concerted push to repeal the sustainable growth rate once and for all earlier this year, no such effort has been made to delay or suspend the implementation of ICD-10 in October.

Small physician practices, especially in rural areas, will be further stretched to afford the transition costs associated with ICD-10, where physicians that work for hospitals or large health care systems have the funding to stay afloat during the transition and have little to no desire to delay implementation, according to the article.

The Medical Association’s Past President W. Jeff Terry, M.D., has been extremely vocal on the consequences of implementation of ICD-10 on small physician practices – even being the lone physician to testify before Congress to voice concerns should ICD-10 be implemented later this year.

While the Medical Association supports Rep. Poe’s legislation and is working to build support in the Alabama Congressional Delegation for ICD-10 delay, physicians are encouraged to make plans to prepare for the mandated transition should ICD-10 delay efforts prove unsuccessful.

“ICD-10 is a government mandate that will actually put some physicians and some hospitals out of business if they are not able to comply with this mandate all on one day on Oct. 1,” Dr. Terry said. “How can the government put a physician who has dedicated his entire life to his profession out of business with a mandate that is almost impossible to comply with? It’s like telling the physician he will need to run a five-minute mile to stay in business. I don’t care if you give him one or two years to comply; there are some things that just can’t be done. It’s not fair to physicians or the patients who will lose their physicians. We need to have someone with reason sit back and figure out a better way to implement ICD-10 to protect our profession. The proponents of ICD-10 have not acknowledged this problem at all, and they don’t acknowledge the millions of dollars they will receive when ICD-10 is implemented. There is a very big conflict of interest in this argument and there is a tremendous amount of bad information being circulated to justify ICD-10 even by CMS itself. Congress must act on this issue and do the right thing.”

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