"It is unacceptable to expect physician practices to take such drastic action, such as reverting to paper claims, to avoid serious cash flow issues resulting from this mandate," Turney says. "The shift in the industry to electronic transactions in recent years could amplify the problem. Many health plans have transitioned staff away from handling paper claims, and we are concerned that a sudden, large increase in volume could also result in delayed payments."
ICD-10 also is worrying the AMA. Delegates from the AMA during the closing session of its semiannual policymaking meeting voted to "work vigorously to stop implementation of ICD-10." ICD-10 has about 69,000 codes and will replace the 14,000 ICD-9 diagnosis codes currently in use.
"The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients' care," says AMA President Peter W. Carmel. "At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our healthcare dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary work flow disruptions. The timing could not be worse as many physicians are working to implement electronic health records into their practices."
Carmel notes that a 2008 study found that a small three-physician practice would need to spend $83,290 to implement ICD-10, and a 10-physician practice would spend $285,195 to make the coding change.