CMS Will Delay ICD-10 Implementation, CMS's Tavenner Tells AMA Conference

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will postpone implementation of a new disease coding system, acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said Feb. 14, but she did not state a timeline for doing so.

“I'm committed to re-examining the pace of implementation,”she told the American Medical Association's National Advocacy Conference.

However, “in order to re-examine the time frame we need to go through a rulemaking process,” she told reporters following her keynote address.

She said that a notice would be coming out in the next few days to start that process.

The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision(ICD-10) coding system is intended to be used for classifying health care diagnoses and procedures. All Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-covered transactions, including outpatient and inpatient claims, would have been required to use the ICD-10 codes by Oct. 1, 2013.

“There is concern that folks cannot get their work done around meaningful use [of health information technology], ICD-10 implementation, and be ready for [insurance] exchanges,” she told reporters. “So we decided to listen to that and be responsive.

The AMA earlier in February wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking that implementation of the new disease coding system be halted.

In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in January, AMA said that implementing ICD-10 requires physicians and their office staff to contend with 68,000 codes, a “fivefold increase from the current 13,000 codes.” This conversion “is a massive administrative and financial undertaking for physicians, requiring education, software, coder training, and testing with payers,”AMA said.

Although she acknowledged the need to revisit the implementation schedule, Tavenner Feb. 14 praised ICD-10. She said ICD-10 is a “good idea and foundational to many positive improvements in our health care system, such as better prevention of fraud and abuse,”and is expected to improve patient care.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Jan. 30 said health care organizations should continue efforts to implement a new disease coding system by the October 2013 deadline, rather than waiting to see if Congress would authorize a delay. Stopping work on the transition to the ICD-10 code set would lead to large financial losses for health care organizations that have spent several years preparing for ICD-10, and would also cause organizations to miss the deadline, Dan Rode, vice president for advocacy and policy at AHIMA, said in a Jan. 30 statement.