Reintroduced US House Bill Would Stop ICD-10

Ken Terry

May 07, 2015

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), supported by six of his Republican colleagues, has introduced a House bill to block the government-mandated transition to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 diagnostic code set in October.

Dubbed the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, the legislation would prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from requiring the medical community to comply with the ICD-10 codes.

Instead, the bill would have the US Government Accountability Office conduct a study "in consultation with stakeholders in the medical community…to identify steps that can be taken to mitigate the disruption on health care providers resulting from a replacement of ICD-9 as such a standard."

"The new ICD-10 codes will not make one patient healthier," said Poe in a news release. "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."

Poe's cosponsors include Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), Phil Roe (R.-Tenn.), Mike Rogers (R.-Ala.), Mo Brooks (R.-Ala.), Morgan Griffith (R.-Va.), and Tom Price (R.-Ga.).

The new bill is similar to one that Poe and Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) introduced in both houses of Congress in April 2013. That measure failed to get out of committee.

It's extremely unlikely that the reincarnation of that bill will succeed, either, said Julius Hobson, senior policy advisor to Polsinelli, a Washington, DC, law firm, in an interview with Medscape Medical News. The former American Medical Association lobbyist recalled that when the bill to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) was debated recently, there was "a big move" to delay ICD-10 as part of that legislation. "[Sen.] Pete Sessions, chair of the rules committee, pushed for it very hard, and he did not succeed. So I find it hard to believe that [Poe's bill] could be successful."

Physician groups strongly supported the SGR repeal measure, which passed, but were mixed on ICD-10, Hobson said. "You didn't have the push this time for delay the way we had before."

The main resistance to ICD-10 is coming from small practices — especially in rural and inner city areas — that can't afford the transition costs, Hobson noted. On the other hand, he pointed out, many physicians now work for hospitals and health systems, "and hospitals have no desire to delay ICD-10. They've pushed back on attempts to postpone it."

The ICD-10 coalition, a lobbying group of hospitals, health plans, and medical device makers, has come out strongly against any further delay in ICD-10 implementation, according to a petition the group is circulating.


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