The American Medical Association, which is actively working to stop implementation of the ICD-10 code sets, has sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to immediately halt the implementation process.

The letter, signed by AMA executive vice president and CEO James Madara, M.D., also asks Sebelius to re-evaluate penalty timelines associated with a number of Medicare health information technology initiatives underway.

Madara stresses that ICD-10 adoption is an unfunded mandate that will cost practices about $83,000 to $2.7 million to implement depending on their size, with serious claims processing and payment disruptions. “The timing of the ICD-10 transition that is scheduled for October 1, 2013, could not be worse as many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records into their practices.”

He notes physician investments in government-sponsored EHR meaningful use, electronic prescribing and quality reporting programs also comes at a time when Medicare payment rates continue to fall, with burdensome penalty programs for failure to comply. “Physicians are being required to meet separate requirements under these three overlapping health I.T. programs and have been and will be unfairly penalized if they decide to participate in one program over the other.”

Madara reminds Sebelius of President Obama’s executive order calling on federal agencies to reassess and streamline regulations. “This is a perfect opportunity for HHS to make good on its commitment to improve the regulatory climate for physicians.”

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