The American Medical Association (AMA) will be taking a serious look at the idea of ending a costly, long-planned shift to a new billing code version and instead shifting to an even newer version that’s supposed to be available for beta testing in 2015.

The House of Delegates at the AMA, Chicago, voted earlier this week at a meeting in Chicago to evaluate the idea of replacing the current billing code standard, the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Edition (ICD-9), with the upcoming ICD-11 standard.

Federal law now calls for doctors, hospitals, health insurers to switch to the ICD-10 system by Oct. 1, 2013. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says it will be pushing back the compliance deadline, likely to Oct. 1, 2014.

The Georgia delegation at the AMA’s House of Delegates has suggested that skipping ICD-10 could save physicians time and money while producing better results.

The policy the AMA House adopted calls for the AMA to evaluate ICD-11 as a possible alternative for replacing ICD-9 and to report back to the House in 2013.

“The policy also asks the AMA and other stakeholders, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to examine other options,” Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, the AMA president-elect, says in a statement about the new policy.

ICD-9 was developed in the 1970s, and ICD-10 was developed in the 1990s.

Health insurers have expressed concerns about the cost of the shift but welcomed the possibility that more modern billing codes could improve insurers’, researchers’ and employers’ ability to analyze care data and possibility to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care.

Source:; Allison Bell; June 22, 2012.

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