October 1, 2013 is no Longer Your ICD-10 Deadline

Written by on April 3, 2012 in Features - No comments
Delay could offer practices additional time to prepare

By Suzanne Leder, BA, M.Phil., CPC, COBGC, certified ICD-10 trainer and Torrey Kim, MA, CPC, CGSC, editor-in-chief of Part B Insider

Just three months ago, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) representatives firmly told medical practices that the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) implementation date would not be pushed back beyond Oct. 1, 2013 — what a difference a few months makes.

The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Feb. 16 that the ICD-10 implementation date will indeed be postponed. The agency stated that it “will initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and procedure codes.”

What’s YOUR Reaction
to the ICD-10 Delay?

Chime in by emailing the author The coding industry’s reaction to the ICD-10 delay has run the gamut, but many experts caution not to fall back into a holding pattern. If you recently visited the Coding News (http://codingnews.inhealthcare.com/), you would have seen the current poll that asks, “How did you react to CMS delaying the implementation deadline?” Here’s the voting statistics (as of publication date):

  • The majority of voters — a whopping 57 percent — said “Back to procrastination phase.”
  • 26 percent of voters said, “Hip, hip, hooray!”
  • 17 percent of voters said, “I’ll keep on rolling but now I can be on time.”

Warning: Going back to the procrastination phase could set you up for disaster. Instead, you should take this as an opportunity to surge ahead of schedule, rather than finding yourself scrambling to keep up. “When we heard the news, we didn’t stop anything. We’ve kept on course,” says Suzan Berman, CPC, CEMC, CEDC, Senior Director of Physician Services at Healthcare Revenue Assurance Associates of Plantation, Fla. “We are still moving forward educating the coders (anatomy and physiology), providing regular updates in publications and pursuing a clinical documentation improvement plan to align with ICD-10 — when the time comes,” Berman explains.

Biggest lesson: You must stay with your education action plan, as the delay could only be for a few months. “Even if the delay goes to a few years, you’ll have to start preparing for ICD-11, so why stop preparing at all?” Berman says.

Want to be heard? Email your reaction to the author. For all the latest ICD-10 news, subscribe to the ICD-10 Coding Alert: www.codinginstitute.com/icd-10-coding-alert.html

“ICD-10 codes are important to many positive improvements in our health care system,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. ”We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead,” Sebelius said. “We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements.”

The announcement followed hints that CMS was planning a pushback. On Feb. 14, acting CMS administrator Marilynn Tavenner said she intended to “re-examine the pace at which we implement ICD-10,” which would require the agency to go through the standard federal rulemaking process. Tavenner made her comments to great applause at the American Medical Association’s (AMA) National Advocacy Conference, attendees said.

Physicians are cautiously optimistic

Neither the HHS nor CMS has announced just how much of a delay will take place, but physicians are pleased that they’ll benefit from some additional time to implement the new diagnosis coding system.

“The American Medical Association appreciates Secretary Sebelius’ swift response to address the AMA’s serious concerns with ICD-10 implementation,” said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, in a Feb. 16 statement. “The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources implementing electronic health records in their practices and trying to comply with multiple quality and health information technology programs that include penalties for noncompliance. We look forward to having a productive dialogue with the administration regarding the impact of ICD-10 and decreasing unnecessary hassles for physicians so they can take care of their patients.

Practices: continue to work toward transition

Sebelius’s announcement appears to fall short of the AMA House of Delegates’ original recommendation last fall for a full repeal of ICD-10. However, a slower pace could at least buy time for practices that have not yet considered the impact of ICD-10 on their systems. Despite the announcement of a slower timeline, practices should continue to work toward compliance with the new diagnosis coding system, which appears to still be in place for future implementation. There is no indication of any reduction in the number of ICD-10 codes. In fact, additional new codes have already been added since the announcement. So, even with this delay, the complexity of the coding system remains.

To read Sebelius’s statement, visit www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120216a.html.

For all the latest CMS news, subscribe to the Part B Insider at www.codinginstitute.com/part-b-insider-20.html.

Suzanne Leder, M.Phil., CPC, COBGC, certified AHIMA ICD-10 trainer
can answer your ICD-10 coding questions. In addition to being ICD-10 trainer certified by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Suzanne is a Certified Obstetrics Gynecology Coder (COBGCTM). She has been the Ob-gyn Coding Specialty Alert editor for six years and counting. During her coding writing career, she has covered cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, otolaryngology, and physical medicine and rehab. Suzanne has a bachelor of arts degree from North Carolina State University and an international Master’s degree (M. Phil) from Trinity College Dublin. She became a Certified Professional Coder® (CPC®) through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) in 2004.

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