Groups Question Billing Code Provisions
Physician, hospital and educator groups have raised concerns about a provision in the House version of a health care information technology bill (HR 4157) that includes a provision under which health care providers and health insurers would have to implement a new billing code system, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 9/28).
Under the legislation, which the House approved on July 27, the number of billing codes that providers use to file health insurance claims would increase from 24,000 to more than 200,000 by October 2010. The Senate version of the bill (S 1418), approved in November 2005, does not include the provision (American Health Line, 9/27).
According to CongressDaily, the provision "has become one of the key sticking points" in negotiations to resolve differences in the House and Senate bills.
A letter signed by the American Medical Association and 78 other medical groups last week recommended a delay in the implementation of the new billing codes until 2012. The letter -- sent to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and the chairs and ranking members of the committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over the legislation -- states that the new billing codes could leave physician offices with the "costly prospect of upgrading or replacing practice management systems for billing and coding and the necessity of retraining their billing and coding staff."
In addition, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (R) sent a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that recommended a similar delay over concerns that the new billing codes would "slow or even derail the adoption" of electronic health records in Wyoming.
The American Association of Community Colleges and the Higher Education Allied Health Leaders Coalition also sent a letter to Congress that recommended a similar delay (Lee, CongressDaily, 9/28).