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AHIMA, Forbes Sound Off on AMA's ICD-10 Stance


Among reaction to the American Medical Association's vow to fight implementation of ICD-10, the American Health Information Management Association and Forbes magazine take decidedly different views.

AHIMA officials expressed disappointment in the AMA's position. CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said the industry must move its disease classification system toward international standards and align it with the meaningful use program and value-based reimbursement, which requires a more contemporary and detailed coding system.

Sue Bowman, director of coding policy and compliance at AHIMA, said administrative systems "can be easily implemented" for most primary care practices and specialty practices would only be using a small number of ICD-10 codes. "The classification system is like a dictionary," she said. "You only use it for the codes that represent the diseases that your practice encounters, which would not be every code in the book." The ICD-9 code set, she added, has essentially run out of codes and cannot fully express 21st Century medical knowledge.

The headline of Forbes staff writer David Whelan's story--The AMA Finally Takes A Stand Against ObamaCare Thinking In Washington--said it all about the magazine's opinion. "Nobody's made a great case for why ICD-10 is a good idea, except that it would make U.S. and European coding equivalent. Comparative public health research would become easier, but at a huge unfunded cost," he wrote.

Whelan wrote that the AMA's stance is interesting because it is the first time a major health care lobbying organization has come out against ICD-10, and is a sign of "growing resistance to policy makers practicing medicine without a license." He noted that between the stimulus and reform laws, the Obama Administration has "jammed 'reforms' down doctors' throats with nary a gag."


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