Today the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) officially endorsed H.R. 2652, the Protecting Patients and Physicians Against Coding Act, authored and introduced by Congressman Gary Palmer. The bill is aimed at protecting access to health care with the pending implementation of ICD-10, the new coding system linked to Medicare and Medicaid. Many smaller practices, particularly in rural areas, are not yet ready to fully implement this new system, which threatens patient access and quality of care.
"We are very concerned about the ICD-10 mandate," George "Buddy" Smith Jr., M.D., president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, said. "Not only does it not improve patient care, but it may provide insurers four times as many reasons to deny necessary medical services and procedures because of coding errors,"
Dr. John Meigs, a family physician from Centerville, Alabama and a member of the board of censors at MASA, anticipates serious problems if H.R. 2652 is not adopted.
"The new coding system does nothing for patients or doctors, it's for insurance companies and bean counters," said Dr. Meigs. "It will get in the way of the care patients in rural areas badly need. There hasn't been much in terms of a trial run. To avoid serious disruptions, there's going to need to be a grace period where physicians get a chance to get used to this new system."
Congressman Palmer expressed appreciation to MASA for endorsing his bill.
"Many medical practices are facing serious problems with the implementation of ICD-10 and we should act to ensure there is no disruption in patient care. The Protecting Patients and Physicians Against Coding Act will help to ensure that patients will still have access to healthcare during this period of transition," said Palmer.