Elaborate medical code overhaul set to launch, frustrates doctors

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Despite myriad delays for ObamaCare, the government says it will be ready on Oct. 1 to roll out a separate major health care initiative -- thousands of hyper-specific diagnostic codes that will make up a new medical billing system.

Called ICD-10, these 68,000-plus codes were written to anticipate almost every medical emergency imaginable.

For example, there’s a code for being injured by a spacecraft and one for if someone is bitten by an orca (killer whale).

Other animal-related codes include two on getting struck or bitten by a turkey, and others on being injured by squirrels and getting hit by a motor vehicle while riding an animal.

The codes are to be used by the federal government and private health insurers to determine the cost or value for each patient visit.

But not everyone is on board. The American Medical Association is against implementing the ICD-10 and says the new system hasn’t been tested enough and will lead to major billing problems.

“For small physician practices implementing something this complex particularly at a time that we have major health system reform … have really created the perfect storm for small physician practice and really risk to swamp many of these small offices,” Dr. Steven Stack told Fox News. The AMA, however, did praise the administration this month for agreeing to conduct additional testing.

Proponents say the updates are needed and that the current system – ICD-9 – leaves out many maladies.

The codes were last updated 30 years ago.

There had been some speculation that the government would not be able to roll out a complete new list of medical codes, but Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Thursday the Oct. 1 deadline would not change.

"There are no more delays and the system will go live on Oct 1. Let's face it guys, we've already delayed it several times and it's time to move on. It's a standard in the rest of the world," Tavenner said.