AAPC President Reed Pew Discusses Health Care Issues

AAPC President and CEO Reed Pew addressed a crowd of nearly 2,000 medical coders and health care professionals at the AAPC annual conference held in Las Vegas in early April. This year, more than ever, medical coders and health care professionals alike are recognizing the importance of staying current in their education and understanding all of the changes that are taking place in the health care industry. In his annual conference address, Pew addressed many of the topics that are weighing heavily on the minds of health care professionals across the country.

ICD-10-CM: Coming in October 2013
Pew started off his address by talking about why the ICD-10-CM implementation date, originally proposed for October 2011, was pushed back two years to October 2013.

"The original date was a political, not a practical decision," Pew said. "In addition to that, over 60 percent of the comments submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services during the response period on the rule came from AAPC members... kudos to all of you for making a statement."

Since the final rule was announced in January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has asked the AAPC to work with it to ensure all parties are ready for the 2013 implementation. Pew said CMS knows the AAPC can achieve ground-level action, based on the response from AAPC members during the comment period. The AAPC will work with CMS on a variety of ICD-10-related issues, including participating in outreach calls put on by CMS starting in June.

Pew also introduced what the AAPC will be doing to help health care professionals prepare for the major transition to ICD-10-CM. According to Pew, "The AAPC has the right approach, the right tools and the right training-all at the right cost." The AAPC's implementation plan includes organizational efforts beginning in early 2010 and code training for individuals beginning in 2012.

Wrapping up his discussion on ICD-10, Pew advised all who were in attendance, "Please do not get sucked into getting individualized training too early. We reiterate that it is very difficult to remember anything four years later."

Health Care Reform
"The crisis is in the cost of health care, not in health care itself," Pew said.

He shared statistics and information on the cost of health care in the U.S. and the cost breakdown for each American. The costs are staggering any way you look at it.

In the recently passed stimulus package, $17 billion was allocated for EMR/EHR installations. New committees have been created to research and propose policies and standards for HIT. But, with all of these committees being formed and money being allocated, Pew asked the audience an important question, "Is HIT the 'silver bullet' to fix the health care system? Or is it a red herring?"

Most providers, according to Pew, have seen little return on investment from HIT when compared with the amount of money they have put into HIT systems. Ultimately, Pew said he believes there must be changes in the process, as well as a cultural change in how physicians practice, for reform to really take place.

The bottom line and the reality of health care reform, Pew said, comes down to:

In his opinion, Pew said that the government's plan for health care reform has an equal probability of success as it does of system demise. Pew went on to offer recommendations and advise coding professionals what they can do: discuss the proposed reform with physicians; get involved in EMR decision-making; help implement the cultural change; and become audit proof-more audits are certain to pop up, and now is the time to prepare.

The AAPC: State of the Organization
The AAPC previously announced it had grown to 75,000 members in early March; by the AAPC's national conference in April, its membership numbers had increased even more to 76,500. Pew estimated the AAPC will have nearly 90,000 members by its Nashville National Conference (June 6-9, 2010, at the Gaylord Hotel). The AAPC is the largest coding credentialing organization in the world.

The AAPC's core credential is the CPC® (outpatient focused), and as more and more procedures move from inpatient to outpatient, the CPC® is the credential to have. According to Pew, there are more jobs in the outpatient arena, and based on a recent AAPC survey, there has been less economic impact on CPC®s compared with inpatient coders. The AAPC is working to be faster, cheaper and better and to provide amazing member service.

Pew wrapped up his presentation by quoting Larry H. Miller, a well-known philanthropist, businessman and former owner of the Utah Jazz professional basketball team, "We will do good until there is no more good to be done." Pew said he would like to make this statement part of the AAPC's mission statement when it comes to serving its members and the health care community.