‘It’s a nightmare’

Applauded vote: House of Delegates directs AOA to disapprove of ICD-10

A narrow majority voted to oppose full implementation of new code set.


A narrow majority of the AOA House of Delegates voted yesterday to oppose full implementation of ICD-10, despite a recommendation from a House committee to delay such action.

The chairman of the Ad Hoc House Committee, Jack M. Ramey, DO, says some advised against the resolution because the code set’s final rule has not yet been released. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has delayed ICD-10’s compliance date from Oct. 1, 2013, to a year later.

However, in a House vote that drew applause, 51% of delegates voted in favor of the AOA voicing its disapproval of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposed conversion to ICD-10. Although CMS intends ICD-10 to modernize its 30-year-old predecessor, opponents of the new version say the proposal to add more than 120,000 procedural codes would be a financial and administrative burden to health care providers.

“We support any delay in implementing ICD-10, which we don’t think is a very good system,” said Edward J. Canfield, DO, the president of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, which submitted the resolution.

Dr. Canfield, a family medicine physician in Sebewaing, Mich., said ICD-10 “is very cumbersome, especially for primary care physicians, who are already inundated with changes” that slow doctors down, such as the switch to electronic health records.

Although some argue that ICD-10 is a “train that is already out of the station,” Dr. Canfield believes that argument should not stop the AOA from opposing the changeover. He says that to his knowledge, “no country that already has implemented ICD-10 uses it the way the U.S. is proposing, with all of the approximately 140,000 codes.”

Another delegate who is in favor of immediate action by the AOA is Stephen E. Kabel, DO, a general internist from Delran, N.J. Dr. Kabel said he wants ICD-10 eliminated “because it’s a nightmare” for primary care doctors in particular.

The extra codes would benefit only epidemiologists, according to Dr. Kabel. If ICD-10 is implemented, he says he thinks that physicians will end up using less specific codes, to save time.

“ICD-10 has nothing to do with [improving] medical care,” Dr. Kabel said.

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