December 1, 2011

Most Disagree with AMA Vote to Stop ICD-10


More than half of respondents to an ICD10monitor survey (57.8 percent) say they are not in favor of the position taken by the members of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates who voted on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to “work vigorously (to) stop implementation of ICD-10.” The poll, conducted among ICD10monitor readers, additionally showed that 41.3 percent agreed with the AMA’s stance, and that both sides have strongly held positions on the issue.


In announcing the decision during the association’s semi-annual meeting, AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D., said that, “the implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients’ care.”

“This is not a good position for the AMA to take,” wrote one respondent. “There has been plenty of time for physicians to get ready and prepared, but they are not being partners or engaged with others like coding, HIM and IT. I'm a little embarrassed by this AMA action.”

“It seems like they (AMA) are doing this really late in the game,” another respondent wrote. “Most people have started their upgrades for 5010. Shouldn't they be asking for a postponement instead? Most offices like mine have our hands full trying to purchase and implement a new EHR system, prepare for 5010 & ICD10, plus (perform) all our regular duties ... it's all too much!”

Yet another wrote that, “I believe it is like any other training with major changes. Yes, there is a lot of preparation, and yes. This is a big change to the medical community. But people need to ask themselves … when is a good time?”


Time and Again


The AMA seeking to postpone or defer the implementation of ICD-10 is not without precedent. In a Sept. 19, 2006 letter to then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the association wrote:

“The undersigned physician and state medical associations are concerned with the feasibility of a rapid transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. Recent action at the AMA House of Delegates called for ‘delayed implementation of a simplified, modified ICD-10-CM coding system, which is less burdensome on practicing physicians, hospitals, and the health insurance industry.’ We therefore urge that provisions requiring implementation by a certain (date), or at least prior to 2012, not be included in a conference report promoting health information technology.”

Fast forward to Oct. 3, 2011, when the AMA was advising members to start preparing for the transition immediately. On the AMA website was this memo to members:

“The differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 are significant, and physicians and practice management staff need to start educating themselves now about this major change so that they will be able to meet the Oct. 1, 2013 compliance deadline. Moving to ICD-10 is expected to impact all physicians. Due to the increased number of codes, the change in the number of characters per code and increased code specificity, this transition will require significant planning, training, software/system upgrades/replacements, as well as other necessary investments.

Before the ICD-10 codes can be used, however, physicians and others in the healthcare community must start using the new version of HIPAA transaction standards known as 5010 by Jan. 1, 2012, as the current version, 4010, does not accommodate use of the ICD-10 codes.”

Get on With It

A number of respondents would seem to agree with the AMA on this point. One wrote that “the U.S. has been ‘behind the times’ in this matter for too long already. We need to get on par with the rest of the worldwide health community. ICD-10 will be a much better coding/statistical tool once we are all familiar with its use.”

Echoing a similar refrain, another wrote that, “many providers have already spent thousands up to millions of dollars … in preparation. The AMA is facing as many challenges as hospitals, and the impact of ICD-10 will be (of) greater impact to hospitals than to physician practices.”

“We need to move forward,” agreed a third responder. “The rest of the civilized world has.  Maybe the ICD-10 PCS was a bit much, but just the ICD-10 diagnosis codes piece should move forward.”



Said yet another: “This country needs ICD-10 for accurate data collection and the full range of codes that it offers, as well as the ability to add to it in the future. We should not wait longer to do this, and much work has already been done toward the implementation.”

Reflecting a growing cynicism towards government, especially Congress, one respondent concluded that the healthcare community should “finish the 5010 update and the meaningful use before proceeding to a new process (when) already there is (a) shortness of coders throughout the country. Is government doing this for the hospitals and physicians (to) file (for) bankruptcy?”



Read 122 times Updated on March 17, 2016
Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.