Rep. Poe's bill to prevent ICD-10 implementation sparks debate

Bill against ICD-10 coding sparks debate among industry

The new bill that asks for a complete ban of the new ICD-10 codes has sparked heated debate since it was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Tex., on April 30. There is currently a solid amount of support for each side of the bill, making it possible that the ICD-10 implementation date of Oct. 1, 2015, may be postponed.

Rep. Poe's bill continues to threaten ICD-10 implementation
Those on Poe's side are primarily small health care providers who are struggling to adhere to meaningful use standards and lack the funds to invest in a new or upgraded system. They believe that implementing a new set of codes will fail to enhance patient care because providers will be even more burdened by the transition. 

However, health professionals who oppose Poe's bill consist mainly of payers, health insurers, billers and coders who agree that the updated set of codes is key to improving care quality. However, many providers argue that the ICD-10 implementation will end up benefiting insurers more than patients.  

Poe's new bill, officially called the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, would prevent the country's health care industry from updating the coding system to the coding set used throughout the rest of the world, which many believe will cause the U.S. health sector to experience major problems. The ICD-10 codes have already been implemented by the vast majority of the first-world countries across the globe. The U.S., on the other hand, has postponed the implementation date for multiple years. However, Poe argues that the new codes would only put a strain on the health care sector.

"The new ICD-10 codes will not make one patient healthier," Rep. Poe explained in a public statement. "What it will do is put an unnecessary strain on the medical community who should be focused on treating patients, not implementing a whole new bureaucratic language. Instead of hiring one more doctor or nurse to help patients, medical practices are having to spend tens of thousands just to hire a specialist who understands the new codes. Big government must get out of the way and let doctors do what they were trained to do – help people."

Bill has supporters on both sides
Senator Rand Paul, R-Ken., is one of the many politicians who agree with banning the ICD-10 codes. He joked about the international coding sets, specifically those that include animal and bird-related injuries, in a speech at the Iowa Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. However, many politicians criticized him for comparing ICD-10 coding implementation with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as the comparison of the two may negatively impact the health care system and mislead the government. 

The American Medical Association is one of the organizations that is opposing a ban or another delay of the ICD-10 codes, despite the fact that Poe suggested otherwise in his bill. The AMA has openly spoken about how essential it is to prepare for a new coding system.

"The likelihood that Medicare will reject nearly one in five of the millions of claims that go through our complex health care system each day represents an intolerable and unnecessary disruption to physician practices," AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D., stated in an AMA press release. "Robust contingency plans must be ready on day one of the ICD-10 switchover to save precious health care dollars and reduce unnecessary administrative tasks that take valuable time and resources away from patient care." 

With a decent number of politicians and health care organizations backing each side of the bill, it is unclear as to whether it will continue to pose a serious threat to ICD-10 implementation.