Medicare could delay burdensome rules on doctors

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The Obama administration says the new codes would get U.S. medical diagnostics in line with much of the rest of the world while allowing health officials to better track the nation's health and monitor diseases.

Critics — including the AMA — say switching to ICD-10 coding will require doctors' offices to deal with some 68,000 codes, more than five times the current 13,000. The change, according to the AMA, would cost medical practices anywhere between $83,290 and more than $2.7 million, depending on size.

Speaking to reporters after her prepared remarks, Tavenner said her office would formally announce its intention to craft new regulations "within the next few days."

"There's concern that folks can't get their work done around [adoption of health information technology], their work done around ICD-10 implementation, and be ready for [the health law's insurance] exchanges," she said. "So we're trying to listen to that and be responsive."

It's not clear if Tavenner's opening will assuage the nation's largest doctors lobby. The AMA did not immediately answer a request for comment, but in the past has asked for the administration to scrap its ICD-10 adoption plans altogether.

In a Jan. 17 letter to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), AMA CEO James Madara urged the House Speaker to "put a stop to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) required implementation of ICD-10, and to call on stakeholders to assess an appropriate replacement for ICD-9."