HHS To Begin Process To Delay ICD-10 Compliance Deadline

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On Thursday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that HHS will initiate a process to delay the compliance deadline by which certain health care entities must start using ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes, the Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog" reports (Hobson, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 2/16).

The announcement comes just two days after acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner spoke at the American Medical Association Advocacy Conference and said the agency will consider extending the timeline for ICD-10 implementation.

Background

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.

Under the current timeline, health care providers and insurers have until Oct. 1, 2013, to adopt new ICD-10 code sets.

In November 2011, AMA's House of Delegates approved a resolution pledging to block the transition to ICD-10 code sets, saying the health care industry already is overburdened by requirements under the federal health reform law and health IT incentive programs.

Earlier this month, James Madara -- executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association -- sent a letter asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to stop the federally mandated implementation of the ICD-10 coding system and re-evaluate the timelines associated with several federal health IT initiatives (iHealthBeat, 2/15).

Details of the Announcement

According to the announcement, HHS will push back its Oct. 1, 2013, compliance deadline for ICD-10 and announce a new compliance date moving forward (Goedert, Health Data Management, 2/16).

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead." She added that HHS is "committing to work with the provider community to re-examine the pace" of ICD-10 implementation (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/16).

AMA Praises HHS Decision

In a statement, AMA President Peter Carmel said that the association appreciates Sebelius' "swift response to address the AMA's serious concerns with ICD-10 implementation."

Carmel said that AMA believes that burdens on physician practices need to be reduced "as the nation's health care system undertakes significant payment and delivery reforms" (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 2/16).

Richard Beery
I say shame on the AMA. The US is one of the last countries to have not adopted the WHO sponsored ICD-10. ICD-9 is out of date and has been for many years. Are we saying that our US doctors are less intelligent than those in the rest of the world and therefore cannot handle the increased specificity that ICD-10 provides? I don't think so. It is simply a matter of complacency. Time to get on the bus.

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