ICD-10 deadline to be delayed, but for whom?

February 23, 2012

Practices panicking about the impending transition from ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes to the avalanche of data in ICD-10 may be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Panicking about the impending transition from ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes to the avalanche of data in ICD-10? You may be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

February 16, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius issued a statement that “HHS will initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain healthcare entities have to comply” with ICD-10.

The statement did not offer more information about which “certain healthcare entities” would receive an extension. In an email message, a press spokesperson from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to elaborate and referred Medical EconomicseConsult to Sebelius’ statement.

American Academy of Family Physicians’ President Glen Stream, MD, told Medical Economics eConsult on Friday that he had heard about the delay but was not aware of any exceptions. Since 2008, the AAFP has pushed for an ICD-10 deadline extension for its members, especially those trying to form a Patient-Centered Medical Home and adopting electronic health records, Stream says.

“There’s only a certain amount of change that a system, like a practice, can tolerate over time,” he says. “If there’s a mandate for too many changes at one time, you stress the adaptability of that practice.”

The American Medical Association, which had petitioned Sebelius and lawmakers in January for a deadline postponement, supported the announcement.

“Burdens on physician practices need to be reduced-not created-as the nation's healthcare system undertakes significant payment and delivery reforms,” said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, in a statement. “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."

The final rule adopting ICD-10 as a standard was published in January 2009 and set a compliance date of October 1, 2013-2 years after the initial compliance date specified in the 2008 proposed rule. HHS will announce a new compliance date in the future.

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

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