Health Information Management

ICD-10 opponents may have finally run out of time

APCs Insider, March 13, 2015

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By Steven Andrews
 
ICD-10 opponents have been fighting the code set for 20 years, but in approximately two weeks, providers should finally have an unquestionable implementation date.
 
The Coalition for ICD-10 recently posted a collection of reasons ICD-10 opponents have used for decades to try and delay implementation, and the only surprising part is how little they've changed over the years. It's hard to claim the industry hasn't had enough time to prepare considering all the other changes healthcare has undergone in the last two decades.
 
As I wrote last week, last-ditch efforts by House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, to drum up Congressional support for a delay didn't seem to find much traction. After we went to press, Sessions' office let me know that while the Congressman hadn't drafted any delay legislation, he was meeting with physicians to discuss ICD-10's effect on the industry.
 
A delay was always likely to come as language inserted into the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) bill that Congress must pass by March 31 to prevent massive cuts to physician Medicare payments. That was the bill that included the delay last year. Sessions' office didn't deny that he might be trying to work a delay into that bill.
 
The latest information from Washington, D.C., is that Congress is working to introduce a permanent fix to the SGR bill, in order to prevent the annual rush to pass a patch, according to The Hill. This would be a big win for physicians and the industry at large, as doctors wouldn't have to worry about potentially huge cuts each year and unrelated riders wouldn't be added to patch bills that were almost ensured passage.
 
The permanent fix bill could still be contentious, but that means the likelihood of any additional controversial riders is unlikely—but not impossible. Providers should continue to tell their representatives that a delay would cost the industry potentially billions of dollars and punish all the people who have worked in good faith to meet the government's timelines.
 
The Coalition for ICD-10 has a form that can walk you through the steps to contact Congress to show your support for keeping October 1, 2015, as the ICD-10 deadline. It may have taken 20 years, but ICD-10 opponents are finally running out of time.



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