Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy) | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Politifact: Medicare does have nine codes for turkey contacts

The statement

Says new Medicare billing guidelines "have nine codes for (injuries by) turkeys."

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, on Fox Business Network

The ruling

Doctors' offices, already burdened by federal billing bureaucracy, will soon find themselves pecked to death by new rules, Texas congressman Ted Poe says.

New diagnosis codes required for reimbursement are so specific, he told Fox Business Network host John Stossel, there are a set of them just for injuries caused by turkeys.

"Whether you run into a turkey or the turkey runs into you, you're pecked by a turkey or you're bitten by a turkey, there's a difference between being pecked and being bitten," he said in an interview last week. "So they have nine codes for turkeys."

Poe, a fifth-term Republican who's a member of the Tea Party Caucus, argues doctors shouldn't have to face the expense of complying with new rules or penalties for screwing up.

"Do they need to go through this much detail to get information to the federal government? I don't think they do," he said.

We had to know: Do new Medicare billing guidelines include "nine codes for turkeys"?

As Poe suggested, the new system does have far more diagnosis codes than the version developed in the 1970s — 68,000 instead of 13,000.

The codes, which will be required for Medicare claims by October 2014, allow doctors to specify not just injuries from turkeys, but from parrots, macaws, ducks and geese.

There's a different code for being "struck" vs. "pecked" or suffering from "other contact"— with specification for the first time, an unlucky repeat or even worse, "sequela." (That would be some "negative afteraffect" resulting from your turkey encounter.)

Poe's office pointed us to this:

W61.4 Contact with turkey

W61.42 Struck by turkey

• W61.42XA initial encounter

• W61.42XD subsequent encounter

• W61.42XS sequela

W61.43 Pecked by turkey

• W61.43XA initial encounter

• W61.43XD subsequent encounter

• W61.43XS sequela

W61.49 Other contact with turkey

• W61.49XA initial encounter

• W61.49XD subsequent encounter

• W61.49XS sequela

If you've seen TV ads about the need to prepare for a bright new career in medical billing and coding — this is part of the reason why.

We rate this claim True.

Edited for print. Read the full version at

Politifact: Medicare does have nine codes for turkey contacts 04/30/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 9:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Global computer outage grounds British flights


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports Saturday as a global IT failure caused severe disruption for travelers on a busy holiday weekend.

    British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in January. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
  2. Road rage incident leaves uninvolved man, 52, with critical injuries in Pinellas Park


    PINELLAS PARK — A 52-year-old man was critically injured after an apparent road rage incident that shut down the area of a U.S. 19 overpass for nearly six hours on Friday, police said.

    Pinellas Park police say a man has critical injuries after a truck involved in a road rage incident slammed into him after he cut off another vehicle. (Pinellas Park Police Department)
  3. Britain lowers terror threat level to 'severe' as more arrested


    MANCHESTER, England — Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from "critical" to "severe," as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are expected.

    An army bomb disposal team works with members of the police in the Moss Side area of Manchester, England, on Saturday. British police say they are evacuating residents around a house being searched in connection with the Manchester concert bombing. Police are searching a number of properties and have 11 suspects in custody in connection with Monday's explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, which killed more than 20 people and injured dozens. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
  4. Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen dies


    Sergio Bendixen, the first Hispanic to run a U.S. presidential campaign who later pioneered public-opinion polling among Latinos and other immigrant populations, died late Friday in Miami. He was 68.

    Sergio Bendixen.
  5. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).