Why are physicians once again asking Congress for further delay of the ICD-10 compliance date? Its a simple reason, says Jeff Terry, MD, an urologist in Mobile, Ala. CMS wont talk to doctors, so thats why we have to go to Congress.
During the December 2014 lame-duck session of Congress, physician organizations including state and regional AMA delegations are pressing members of the House and Senate to approve a delay of ICD-10 until October 2017. And if that doesnt work, theyll keep trying in early 2015 to attach an amendment to legislation moving through Congress.
Terry, chair of the Alabama delegation of the American Medical Association, has been active in pushing for the delay, including traveling to Capitol Hill. His message: Yes, we need a new coding set, but not at this time.
While members of the HIT Now Coalition also have been knocking on legislators doors with a message that further delay would cause disruption for coalition members, Terrys response is harsh. They dont even know what it will do to physicians. They need to talk to rural docs not taking a paycheck anymore so staff can be paid. And ICD-10 will only make the financial crunch worse because the industry will not be ready come October 2015, he contends.
In the mind of many physicians, CMS is worried about how further delay would affect coders, Terry says. Well, give me a break. This isnt about coders; its about doctors and their patients.
Physicians also worry that ICD-10 is all about getting more money back from physicians, he notes. They fear that CMS and other insurers will save money by auditing practices making ICD-10 mistakes. If I dont get it right, someone is going to come six months later and say, This isnt right, and take money from me.
A scenario of physicians retiring to avoid ICD-10 related disruption is becoming real, Terry warns. This is not hysteria, in my community people already are retiring. So, we no longer have a very good vascular surgeon in our town.
Going live nationwide on ICD-10 in one day just doesnt make sense, Terry says, and CMS knows this because it is suggesting that physicians need three-to-six months of operational costs set aside to aid in paying bills and payroll after the switchover.
Again, it isnt that physician are just against ICD-10, they want concerns addressed and a smoother rollout, according to Terry. It would be nice to have a new coding system; we just need to do it the right way.
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