I am writing this from Colorado Springs, about to speak to a large group of health benefit administrators.  These are individuals who by and large assist businesses who have chosen to self-insure for the health needs of their employees rather than participate in the corporate pocket-lining scam known as “health insurance.”  These are individuals who must keep abreast of all of the new federal health regulations that have oozed out of the swamp in D.C. and continue to bubble to the surface.  

I have addressed groups like this several times now and the agenda for these meetings invariably contains lecture after lecture about how to comply with various parts of the Unaffordable Care Act.  Keynote speakers, experts in their field, deliver hour-long talks on the “latest” rules and regulations to appear and with which compliance is mandatory.  People travel from all over the country and pay big money to attend these conferences, only to read in the paper the following day that the implementation of the new rules and regs they have worked so hard to understand and to comply with has been delayed or stricken from the original bill by executive order.

In addition, physicians have been struggling to implement and understand the new coding language inflicted on us by the American Medical Association, an organization that claims to represent the very physicians it has victimized.  Charging physicians for the ICD-10 code books (and also charging the doctors and their staffs to attend conferences to understand how to code for an injury caused by a turkey while water skiing….seriously), is like charging people for water boarding them.  After working so hard and spending so much to be ready for the implementation of ICD-10, we now receive the news that its implementation has been delayed at least a year!  Yes, doctors, those meetings you and your staff went to and for which you paid so much dough to the AMA cronies were indeed a waste of time and money.  

Accompanying the announcement of the delay of forcing physicians to use the ICD-10 codes was the announcement that the American Hospital Association was opposed to such a delay.  The big hospitals undoubtedly saw ICD-10 as one of several blows that delivered to private physician practices would render them more amenable to an “offer” to buy out their practice.  The D.C. detritus got the hospitals to go along with the delay though, buying them off with something else the hospitals wanted.

Money will pour in to D.C. when the next ICD-10 deadline looms, hospitals paying for its implementation to beat down the private practice physician holdouts, and physicians, in retreat mode, will pay to buy more time.  The AMA, whose financial health almost completely rests on the printing of these code books (a contract they were given by Uncle Sam) will fight for the implementation of this new coding maze, while representing themselves the champions of the physicians in this country.  They will sell even more compliance seminars, as during the implementation interlude, even more changes to ICD-10 will appear, the essence of which can only be revealed to those who pay to receive the latest.

I am thinking that if all of the money that is spent on this foolishness were counted accurately, the health needs for those this vicious law was supposedly intended to help would be satisfied.  Remember Albert Camus:  ”The welfare of the masses is always the alibi of tyrants.”

G. Keith Smith, M.D.

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