Speak Out About ICD-10
Contact those who can help the United States join the rest of the ICD-10 world.
By Jeanne Yoder, RHIA, CPC, CPC-I, CCS-P
Do you want to do something that takes five minutes, and will make our country a better place? Write to your elective representative, and tell him or her that ICD-10-CM needs to be implemented—the sooner, the better!
Tell your elective representative that you care about the health of newborns, and that only ICD-10-CM provides the medical community with data to indicate the trimester when the mother was exposed to an infectious disease, took a drug, or fell. Tell him or her that we need a code set that (unlike ICD-9-CM) is being maintained, because new diseases, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and chikungunya (A92.0 Chikungunya virus disease), are entering the United States.
Tell your elective representative that, although ICD-10-CM may take us out of our comfort zone, we need to make the change. Tackling climate change is daunting, but ensuring we can code for epidemiology is within our grasp. The end of world hunger is hard to fathom, but an inpatient procedure system that accurately reflects hospital services is foreseeable. The United States already wastes millions annually because it does not use the (world standard) metric system; let’s not repeat this mistake by continuing to use an archaic medical data collection system.
We are up to the task of implementing ICD-10. Now we must make our elective representatives understand the importance of data, which will allow us to advance medicine into the future.
Tell your elective representative that this is a “jobs issue.” Tell him or her how you were scheduled to graduate, but now you will be delayed six months because you need to learn ICD-9-CM. Explain that you paid for your own courses to be ready for ICD-10-CM. Explain how your practice invested in training and had everything set to transition to a new billing system. Explain how the uncertainty affects you, the elective representative’s constituent.
Tell your elective representative, the longer we wait, the more expensive and difficult the transition will be. Tell him or her there needs to be a House rule, this session, that says, “The Secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will, on October 1, 2015, adopt ICD-10 as the standard code set under section 1173(c) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d–2(c)) and section 162.1002 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations.”
Expect to receive a canned response. That is the way it works. When an issue comes up, the elective representative asks his or her employees if there has been constituent input. That is when your email or letter is dug up. We need to make sure all of our letters explain in short, simple sentences why ICD-10 transition is important. The more feedback your elective representative has regarding the need for transition on October 1, 2015, the better chance we have of joining the rest of the world in using ICD-10-CM.
Tips for Contacting Your Elective Representatives
To contact your elective representatives, I recommend you start with the U.S. House of Representatives because that is where many bills start. If you don’t know your representatives, go to www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and enter your zip code to see the names, photos, and mailing addresses of your local representatives.
Snail mail is probably the most impressive way to contact your representatives, especially if your note is handwritten. You can also call (202) 225-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator. If you prefer email, enter your representative’s name and “congressman” in a search engine and look for email addresses ending in “house.gov.”
Elective representatives’ websites are not uniform. You many need to look around the website to figure out how to send the email. In doing this, you may determine one of your representatives has greater influence based on his or her committee membership. With regard to ICD-10-CM, those representatives on the Energy and Commerce Committee (and especially those on the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee) have the greatest influence.
When contacting an elective representative, explain your position in your own words. This shows “grass roots” involvement. Copying and pasting a national organization’s narrative is obvious, and significantly discounts the effect your correspondence will have on the elective representative.
Jeanne Yoder, RHIA, CPC, CPC-I, CCS-P, is retired from the U.S. Air Force and is now a contractor working for the TRICARE Management Activity. She presented at the 2006-2009 AAPC national conferences. Her goal is to have quality data to help make quality decisions.