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Michael Tanner: Sickening Regulation February 29, 2012

Never underestimate the brilliance of our federal bureaucracy.

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it must delay implementation of new reimbursement codes for Medicare. Those new regulations would have increased the total number of reimbursement codes from the current 18,000 to more than 140,000 separate codes. The delay will undoubtedly come as a relief for physicians who will have additional time to try to understand the bureaucratic complexity of rules that, for example, apply 36 different codes for treating a snake bite, depending on the type of snake, its geographical region, and whether the incident was accidental, intentional self-harm, assault, or undetermined. The new codes also thoroughly differentiate between nine different types of hang-gliding injuries, four different types of alligator attacks, and the important difference between injuries sustained by walking into a wall and those resulting from walking into a lamppost.

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