WASHINGTON, April 10 -
Mr. Speaker, let’s say that I take one of my 10 grandkids, Barrett Houston, to a basketball game he is playing in. He gets hit in the face with a basketball, so we go to the doctor to see if his nose is broken. The doctor asks Barrett Houston this question: Is this the first time you’ve been hit in the face with a basketball, the second time, or do you have a habit of being hit in the face by a basketball? Barrett says, I don’t know. Doctor says, I’ve got to know because, you see, I’ve got this codebook here, and the law require that I make sure I put in the codebook the way you were hurt by the basketball and how many times because there are five codes for being hit in the face by a basketball. And let’s say he doesn’t know. Well, the doctor has to be accurate in how he diagnoses being hit in the face by the basketball or the doctor will get in trouble.
Let’s say I take another one of my grandsons, Jackson, to go hunting, but he happens to get assaulted by a wild turkey. We go to the doctor, and the doctor says, “Hey, I’ve got to know exactly how you were hurt by that turkey because there is a code for being assaulted by a turkey for the first time. There is a code for being assaulted by the turkey a second time. There is a different code for being pecked by a turkey rather than being bitten by a turkey. There are nine codes. The doctor must get the right code or he is in violation of the law about being assaulted by that turkey. It seems nine codes for a turkey assault is a bit silly.
Right now, Mr. Speaker, there are 18,000 of these codes. Doctors must be accurate when they fill out the diagnosis of a patient who comes and sees them.
Stay with me, Mr. Speaker.
Soon, there will be 140,000 of these medical codes that doctors must get right or they’re in trouble by the Federal Government. The new code system is called ICD-10. For example, you’re injured at a chicken coop; that’s code number Y9272. You are injured at an art gallery, you fall down; that’s Y92250. There are even three new codes for being injured when you walk into a lamppost. You walk into a lamppost for the first time, that’s one code; you walk into a lamppost for the second time, that’s a different code; you walk into a lamppost habitually, that is even a different code. And the doctor must get it right, because he’s in violation of the Federal regulators if he doesn’t get it right.
The Houston doctors I’ve talked to say this is an expensive distraction from treating patients. Well, no kidding. It’s red tape, it’s bureaucracy, and this is what happens when clueless Big Government here in Washington starts telling people out in the workplace – doctors and patients – what they must do. And when the government intrudes into our lives with more regulations, the government continues to make things more complicated. It finds problems in every solution.
Doctors are really in the business of helping the sick and the injured and saving lives. Do they really have the time and money to translate a complicated 140,000 – codebook when they diagnose everything that happens? But they don’t’ have a choice. If they miscode, they do not get paid. Even more so, they face the threat of being fined by the Federal Government.
There’s more. TO set up this new 140,000 – code philosophy, it’s going to cost an average single practitioner doctor $80,000. Now, isn’t that lovely? If it’s a practice of 5 to 10 people, that’s going to cost that practice $250,000 to comply with Federal regulations, the new codebook.
In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, when regulators go to work every day down the street in one of these big office buildings, they sit around a big oak table, they pull out their lattes and their iPads and they ask the question to each other: “Who shall we regulate today?” They type out a few regulations and send it out to the fruited plain and the masses. They don’t care about the cost or the effect or whether the regulations make any sense; they just do it anyway. And we have to deal with it.
These new codes are not going to make one sick person well, but yet doctors must comply with these new codes or the code police are going to punish them. Doctors want to take care of patients, but the Federal Government is forcing 140,000 complicated, unreasonable codes on all of us that are hard to decipher. Maybe we should sequester these new codes. Where are those World War II code breakers when we need them most? And that’s just the way it is.