Health Information Management

ICD-10 not delayed, but industry must continue to enlighten those who oppose it

APCs Insider, December 12, 2014

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By Steven Andrews
ICD-10 implementation remains on track for October 1, 2015, after a series of Congressional spending bills unveiled late Tuesday contained no new delay provisions, despite extensive efforts by members of Congress and state medical associations.
Proponents of keeping the 2015 date stepped up their own campaigns in recent days. Several large hospital associations, including the American Hospital Association, America's Essential Hospitals, and the Association of American Medical Colleges, sent a letter to Congress asking for no new delays. AHIMA also continued its own efforts to combat the medical associations' lobbying.
This is certainly good news for healthcare systems, providers, payers, and other stakeholders who have invested to be ready for any of CMS' previous implementation deadlines. After all, delaying ICD-10 again, in addition to leaving the country with outdated codes for an indeterminate amount of time, would likely end up costing the industry more than it would save.
But we're not of the woods, yet. With Republicans taking control of both houses of Congress in 2015, efforts to delay ICD-10 will likely continue. Republicans introduced bills in both the House and Senate to delay ICD-10 in previous years, and a Republican introduced the bill that contained the most recent delay.
It's likely similar, if not identical, bills will be reintroduced next year in another push to delay implementation, but it's unlikely they will gain enough support to actually be voted on, even in a Republican-controlled Congress.
The most likely scenario for another delay is with next year's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) patch bill. Congress might finally act to fund physician Medicare payments in a truly sustainable manner, but considering the SGR has been an annual problem for more than a decade, we'll probably see another patch bill in March. Since physicians would see massive payment cuts if the SGR isn't patched by a certain date, members of Congress could attach an ICD-10 delay provision to the SGR and be reasonably sure it would pass.
Here's a place where the entire industry can stand with AMA to push for legislative action. The SGR patch seems to be the one issue the AMA wants Congress to act on more than an ICD-10 delay.
As we head into 2015, the methods promulgated by the Coalition for ICD-10, AHIMA, and other implementation proponents should serve as a springboard for the industry to continue pushing Congress to refuse any new delays.
In addition, facilities that are preparing or ready for ICD-10 should continue to educate providers on the myriad benefits of implementation—and be ready to debunk the myths groups like the AMA will continue to discuss.


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