Monday, May 25, 2015

One, last, desperate hope to stop the switch

Representative Ted Poe (Texas, 2nd District) introduced H.R. 2126, the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015.  The official summary of the bill is as follows:

This bill prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from implementing, administering, or enforcing regulations that would replace ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases) with ICD-10 as a code set for financial and administrative transactions involving the electronic exchange of health information. ICD is a system of diagnostic codes for classifying diseases.

This bill is very similar to the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013 that Mr. Poe and former Senator Tom Coburn (OK) introduced, but never advanced in Congress.

Despite the merit of both bills, the factions that stand to benefit from ICD-10-CM (including medical records coders, information technology companies, and consultants) are fiercely lobbying against it and in favor of the switch.  Two major factions that ought to know better (hospitals and health plans) are paying lip service to the switch.

The only faction appropriately lobbying against the switch is doctors.  Dr. Steven Stack, President of the American Medical Association, threw the Association's support behind Poe's bill.

The conventional wisdom is that the bill is a long shot.  Having already given the AMA a long-wished-for permanent solution to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, Congress is not likely to wade into potentially contentious waters on doctors' behalf again this year.

Nevertheless, it is the right thing to do.  Congress, please stop the switch!

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