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20-05-2012 | Article

Mixed reaction to ICD-10 delay

MedWire News: Physician and hospital groups are applauding the decision by US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to push back by 1 year the date for implementation of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD-10) diagnosis and procedure codes.

In April, HHS proposed delaying the start of ICD-10 from October 2013 to October 2014.

The move came in response to provider-group concerns about being able to make the transition to the electronic health care transaction systems standard that the new regulations require.

In a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, acting director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH), a group of more than 1000 for-profit hospitals, announced its support for the delay.

"Hospitals have concerns about the convergence of a number of statutory initiatives stretching scarce technical resources. The FAH also agrees with CMS that all segments of the healthcare industry must transition to ICD-10 at the same time because the failure of any one industry segment to successfully implement ICD-10 could potentially affect all other industry segments," the letter stated.

But the American Medical Association (AMA) thinks that the delay should be even longer ‑ a minimum of 2 years, until at least October 2015.

"A 2-year delay of the compliance deadline for ICD-10 is a necessary first step. This postponement period would provide CMS with adequate time to pursue a much needed cost-benefit analysis of the full ICD-10 move that covers the administrative and financial impact of the ICD-10 move on physician practices," AMA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) James Madara wrote to Tavenner.

The AMA is urging CMS to consider whether a modified version of ICD-10 or other code set might be more appropriate for US practices.

Other groups, such as the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), are taking a more gung-ho approach and do not support postponement of ICD-10 implementation, however.

"ICD-9 is antiquated and no longer adequately meets the challenge of a 21st century healthcare system. ICD-10 should be implemented in a timely manner, and AHIMA is ready to continue assisting the healthcare community to prepare for the transition. We also encourage advance testing of the ICD-10 codes to be sure there are no further delays in the implementation deadline," said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, in a statement.

CMS statement

FAH letter

AMA letter

AHIMA statement

By Neil Osterweil