Doctors lobby urges GOP to halt new insurance codes

The largest physicians lobby has sent House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) a letter urging him to halt a federal requirement forcing doctors to switch to new insurance codes in 2013.

The American Medical Association (AMA) says switching to so-called ICD-10 coding will require doctors' offices to deal with some 68,000 codes, more than five times the current 13,000. The change will cost medical practices anywhere between $83,290 and more than $2.7 million, depending on size — at a time when Medicare payment rates face an almost 30 percent cut.

The switch will "create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care," AMA CEO James Madara wrote to Boehner.

Madara also asked for delaying penalties for physicians' offices that don't switch to electronic medical records.

"We urge Congress to consider a reasonable, sequenced timeline for these penalty programs," Madara wrote, "so that physicians are able to meet the various program requirements to avoid penalties."