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AHIMA Indirectly Responds to AMA’s Letter

January 31, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Not long after a letter from the American Medical Association (AMA) to the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) came public, the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) sent out a release urging the healthcare community to continue preparing for the transition to the ICD-10 classification system, warning that the U.S. Congress may not act on requests to stop ICD-10 implementation and let stakeholders design and adopt a new classification system to replace ICD-9-CM.

“If healthcare providers stop their ICD-10 planning and implementation now and wait to see if Congress will take action, they will not be ready in time for the compliance date,” stated Dan Rode, AHIMA vice president for advocacy and policy.

Rode said that without ICD-10 data, there will be serious gaps in extracting important patient health information that will give physicians and the healthcare industry measures for quality of care, provide important public health surveillance, support modern-day research, and move to a payment system based on quality and outcomes. The organization said stopping implementation would result in a significant financial loss to the healthcare providers, health plans, clearinghouses, technology vendors and the federal government, all who have invested in the transition and have been preparing for the last several years, said Rode.

In addition, Rode addressed another concern. “The concern that physicians must use all the codes in the ICD-10-CM system is inaccurate. Like we use dictionaries to find specific words, practitioners use those codes that best fit their practice,” he said.

He also said AHIMA coders have shown that a “super bill” – a form that many practices still use – can be assembled in less than a day for most small practices, making the transition easy for those who do not want to invest in other automated options.

AHIMA and the AMA have gone back-and-forth on the issue of ICD-10 in the past.

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