• AMA continues ICD-10 opposition despite looming deadline

    Author | Date January 10, 2014
    “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” seems to be the American Medical Association’s (AMA) motto in its ongoing fight against the mandated October 1, 2014 implementation date for ICD-10.  Strong objections to the new code set’s burdens on physicians is nothing unusual, but the AMA is one of the very last professional organizations to truly believe there’s still a shot at suspending the transition for any significant length of time.  To that end, they have asked providers to complete a short readiness survey to bolster evidence for a widespread lack of preparedness that will help argue for another delay.
    AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, recently reiterated the organization’s opposition in her 2014 predictions list, noting that “the AMA has been working for years to prevent the roll-out of ICD-10.  Two bills were introduced in 2013 to this end, and we continue to stress to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that the new code set will place an immense burden on physicians.” Over the summer, AMA officials asked for a two-year grace period for coding errors, in which payers would not be allowed to deny claims based on wrong or non-specific ICD-10 codes.  The AMA has also advocated for a continuance of ICD-9 until ICD-11 rolls out in an unspecified number of years.
    While the stubbornness has not helped galvanize providers into preparedness, the organization might not need to look too hard for data supporting their position.  There has never been an ICD-10 survey with a uniformly encouraging result, and recent polling efforts by WEDI, audit firm KPMG, and QualiTest have shown that financial, clinical, and technical issues continue to plague the industry well into the home stretch of implementation.
    The AMA wants to add data on vendor readiness to the ledger.  The new survey asks providers about the cost and anticipated readiness date for upgrades to practice management and EHR software.  Other questions gauge internal testing plans and the availability of Version 2014 Certified EHR technology.  The combined cost and effort of these simultaneous updates may prove a headache for both developers and the providers who need to finesse their staff members and budgets into shape.
    Even though they continue to push for a delay, the AMA acknowledges that providers need to get their readiness plans in gear.  Resources from the organization are available to aid in the planning, testing, and conversion process, including general information and a 12-step action plan.
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