Republicans Sponsor Sensible Bill To Lower Health Care Costs And Improve Access To Care

I have always been on the look out for actions from the Republicans which I can support, but such posts have become increasingly difficult over the past several years as Republicans have moved to the far right. Today I did find an example of a Republican sponsored measure in Congress which, from at least what I’ve read so far, appears worthy of support. (I must add this qualifier as I’ve been burnt at times in initially supporting a Republican measure only to find upon review of the entire bill that it contained other unpalatable portions. Support for this certainly does not mean agreement with other positions of the Republicans involved).  Ted Poe (R-Texas) has introduced the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013, with Tom Coburn introducing the same act in the Senate. The key provision discussed in a report from The Hill is to eliminate the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 diagnostic codes.

This is something which the American Medical Association has been pushing for, and which I have supported. The issue here isn’t which set of codes is better. Despite some opponents who ridicule the entire change based upon cherry-picking examples, there is no doubt that ICD-10 is a better system. The question is whether it is worth the high cost involved in making such a transition. In an era in which we are making so many compromises in health care for cost containment, sticking with an older coding system is an easy choice to make.

Besides greatly increasing costs for every health care facility, conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is just one more government-mandated action which takes up more physician time. The Affordable Care Act (which has nothing to do with the changes in diagnostic codes) will result in large numbers of people seeking primary care doctors in 2014. I have already had to reduce the number of patients I see a day and limit accepting new patients due to the increase in time-consuming requirements, with even more on the horizon. We need to move in the opposite direction and reduce such demands on physician time as much as possible to enable us to see more patients a day so that more people will be able to find a primary care physician.

Regardless of the other positions of the sponsors (and assuming there isn’t anything deleterious hidden in the bill), this is a sensible measure to both prevent unnecessary increases in health care costs and improve access to care.

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