AMA studies coding, elects new officers, examines claims payments

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The AMA seeks alternatives to ICD-10, elects physicians like you to its board, and reveals how insurance companies fare on claims payments.

It turns out that the American Medical Association (AMA) is no fan of ICD-10 either, as it adopts a new policy to determine whether ICD-11 could be used to replace ICD-9.

The organization announced at its annual policy-making meeting that it plans to conduct additional research on the subject and will reveal its findings next year, when it reports to its legislative and policy-making arm, the House of Delegates.

“ICD-10 coding will create unnecessary and significant financial and administrative burdens for physicians," AMA President-elect Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement. “It is critical to evaluate alternatives to ICD-9 that will make for a less cumbersome transition for physicians and allow physicians to focus on their primary priority-patient care.”

The new policy also includes a call for other organizations, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to seek other alternatives to the new diagnostic coding system.

In other AMA news, several family physicians have been elected to the board for the upcoming year. The organization named David O. Barbe, MD, Mountain Grove, Missouri, chairman-elect; Stephen R. Permut, MD, JD, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, secretary; and William E. Kobler, MD, Rockford, Illinois, board member.

President-elect Hoven is an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist from Lexington, Kentucky, and is only the third woman to hold the title of president since the AMA’s inception in 1847.

The AMA also announced the results of its fifth annual National Health Insurer Report Card, a look at how well the largest health insurance companies in the country handle medical claims. The news is good: The rate of accuracy improved for all of the health insurance companies examined since last year’s report card.

Private health insurers made fewer mistakes on the medical claims they paid in 2012 compared with 2011 (9.5% versus 19.3%, respectively). As a result, the healthcare system saved $8 billion in administrative work it did not need to conduct to fix mistakes, the AMA says, although an additional $7 billion could be saved if insurance claims were always paid correctly.