On Thursday, the Federation of American Hospitals sent a letter to acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner expressing cautious support for HHS' proposal to delay the ICD-10 compliance deadline by one year, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 5/17).
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.
In April, HHS announced that it would delay the deadline for complying with ICD-10 standards by one year, to Oct. 1, 2014. HHS said it decided to push back the compliance date partly in response to health care providers' concerns that they would not be able to meet the initial deadline.
The comment period on the new ICD-10 compliance date ended Thursday (iHealthBeat, 5/17).
FAH's Comment Letter
In the comment letter, Charles Kahn -- FAH president and CEO -- said that the delay "is appropriate and should be very beneficial to the ultimate implementation of ICD-10."
He said that FAH's members are being "extremely cautious" about implementing ICD-10 code sets because of their experience implementing HIPAA 5010 electronic claims transaction standards. Kahn said that hospitals were prepared to transition to HIPAA 5010 standards by the Jan. 1 compliance deadline, but other segments of the health care industry were not (Modern Healthcare, 5/18).
In March, CMS announced it would wait until after June 30 to begin enforcing compliance with HIPAA 5010 standards. However, CMS noted that the compliance date would remain Jan. 1 (iHealthBeat, 4/12).
In the FAH letter, Kahn also recommended that CMS:
- Establish milestones to gauge industry readiness for the ICD-10 transition, starting at least one year in advance of the deadline;
- Organize a final review and discussion about ICD-10 coding guidelines; and
- Prepare contingency plans to ensure that payments to hospitals continue while the ICD-10 code sets are being implemented (Modern Healthcare, 5/18).
MGMA-ACPME's Comment Letter
In related news, the Medical Group Management Association-American College of Medical Practice Executives also sent a letter to Tavenner offering recommendations about the proposed delay for ICD-10 compliance.
MGMA-ACMPE called for CMS to:
- Conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the ICD-10 transition;
- Pilot test ICD-10 implementation; and
- Use staggered implementation dates requiring health plans and claims clearinghouses to be prepared for the ICD-10 transition one year before health care providers.
The letter stated that if the federal government does not make changes to its ICD-10 implementation plan, then the health care industry "could incur significant expense and disruption, with little or no return on investment" (Conn, Modern Physician, 5/17).