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House bill would stop ICD-10 mandate

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 13, 2013

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Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would prohibit the Dept. of Health and Human Services from mandating that physicians use ICD-10 diagnosis codes beginning Oct. 1, 2014.

The bill, the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013, would stop the required transition to new diagnosis code sets by physicians who are billing for medical services, verifying patient eligibility, obtaining pre-authorizations, documenting patient visits, and conducting both public health reporting and quality reporting. The mandated switch to the 68,000-code system had been established in a 2009 regulation. HHS announced in 2012 that its implementation deadline had been delayed by one year to 2014.

The American Medical Association wrote an April 26 letter to Rep. Ted Poe (R, Texas) in support of his legislation. Physician practices must bear the cost of training, software upgrades and testing of the new system. The projected cost of ICD-10 implementation ranges from $83,290 to more than $2.7 million per practice, the AMA letter stated.

“The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse, as many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records into their practices,” the AMA said. “Physicians are also facing present and future financial burdens in the form of penalties if they do not successfully participate in multiple Medicare programs already under way, including e-prescribing, EHR meaningful use, the physician quality reporting system and value-based modifier programs.”

The House legislation also would authorize the Government Accountability Office to study ICD-10 and recommend ways to mitigate upgrade disruptions within the health care system.

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