And Will This Succeed?
The industry has known that ICD-10 has been planned for 15 years. It is not surprising that AMA announced its intent on Tuesday June 20th 2012 to research ICD-11 on the eve of the largest health insurance (
health plan) conference of the year – AHIP. AMA’s anti-ICD-10 stance has been presumed to be an anti-health plan tactic. However, it isn’t just health plans that would be hurt by skipping the ICD-10 mandate.
Also, remember that AMA may try to influence, but it does not make the final decision on whether ICD-10 will be used vs. ICD-11. This of course excludes rumors that the White House asked Secretary Sebelius at HHS to delay ICD-10. Perhaps a Senator from Oklahoma who was a physician had something to do with it? I wonder. Sen. Coburn is a retired Republican. I believe it has more to do with the AMA trying to continue to ensure its control over physician compensation with CPT codes. ICD-10 begins to chip away at CPT codes for ambulatory procedures, which determines how physicians get paid outside the hospital setting. Never mind that AMA has set a precedent that specialists get paid more than generalists, leading to an acute shortage of primary care physicians. According to the New York times, “This fee schedule contains about 7,000 distinct nonsurgical and physician services, classified under a nomenclature based on the Current Procedural Terminology to which the American Medical Association holds jealously guarded intellectual property rights.”
AMA is becoming less relevant as many physicians decide that they can’t afford to be in independent practice and now work for hospitals. This is unfortunate, but if you look at the fact that AMA itself has biased payments via its RUC Committee / lobby with CMS, it has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that new medical school graduates with large debt to repay for medical school choose a higher paying specialty area instead of becoming a primary care physician. Primary care doctors are the first line of defense in our health system, and they can help with the continuity of care for their patients, determining when a specialists are needed. Delaying ICD-10, AMA believes, will help preserve its relevance, and its control over physician compensation. Sadly it seems that AMA hasn’t served its own members well, or the healthcare industry.
ICD-11 won’t “arrive” in a year or two. Our health system needs to digest it and then determine when and how to move to it. While ICD-11 has some intriguing benefits, it is a long way off. The base version from WHO is expected in May 2015. After that, the United States will probably need another two years for development of the US version. The earliest it would be available for study would be 2017, and we would need another 4 years to implement it – so that brings us out to 2021, way too far in the future.
Second, skipping to ICD-11 is effectively penalizing the companies that have started work on time on ICD-10. The health care industry has spent hundreds of $millions already on ICD-10 education, assessments, etc. While some health plans are ahead relative to hospitals, some hospital organizations and other providers are not happy about the delay, either.
Let’s look at HIPAA 5010 as an example. CMS mandated this new standard to go into effect by January 1st, 2012. I of know a modestly funded clinic in Minnesota that dutifully complied with HIPAA 5010 for submitting their claims starting on January 1st. But because CMS announced a “discretionary enforcement period,” sending a message to the industry that HIPAA 5010 was delayed, the small clinic was penalized – twice. They spent precious working capital modernizing their electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, then when they started to submit claims in HIPAA 5010 that health plans could not process, their payments were delayed. “No good deed goes unpunished,” as the old saying goes. The clinic employs physicians, coders, administrative staff and others who ran the risk of not receiving their payroll checks.
Why don’t we look at ICD-10 as a way to create jobs? There are many people who could be re-trained to be coders, and IT staff from other depressed industries could be re-purposed to help with healthcare and ICD-10.
ICD-10 Postponement Opens the Door to ICD-11?
ICD-10 – Let’s Get On with IT