Updated on: March 16, 2016

AHIMA-led Coalition Seeks to Dispel ICD-10 Myths, Clarifies Truths

Original story posted on: June 13, 2013

When it comes to ICD-10 implementation, the message coming out of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is clear: Steady as she goes—in spite of recent congressional efforts to knock the industry off course.

In case you haven’t heard, during the last two months or so, two members of Congress have introduced two bills—one in the House of Representatives (HR) and one in the Senate (S)—to prohibit implementation of ICD-10.


If you can’t believe that there are still individuals and organizations considering such a prohibition, you are not alone. The majority of listeners responding to the poll on ICD-10 Monitor’s June 11 “Talk Ten Tuesday” broadcast also “can’t believe it”—70 percent in fact.

Although passage of the bills is unlikely, they could do damage in another way. “One of the biggest concerns is that those who are lagging behind in preparation may view these bills as an excuse to continue to delay some of the work they’re doing,’ said Rhonda Taller, principal consultant with Siemens Healthcare and co-chair of the HIMSS ICD-10 task force. The bills, she said, “add fuel to that fire.”

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced the first fuel to the fire on April 24 via HR 1701—Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013, which would prohibit the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services from replacing ICD-9 codes with ICD-10 codes. The bill also mandates that, within six months of implementation of the legislation, the controller general would study the steps needed to mitigate the disruption that I-10 implementation would cause. At the present time, HR 1701 has 16 co-sponsors.

The same prohibition is included in S. 972, which Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK) introduced on May 16 and currently has only three co-sponsors. However, Senator Coburn also added an amendment (1010) to the farm bill (S. 954) to prohibit ICD-10 implementation—a concern because this is a “technique” used to sneak through hotly contested legislation.

The Senate passed the farm bill on Monday evening, June 10, but did not include all of the amendments on the table. As the website of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund *explains it, “Having failed to reach an agreement on what amendments to debate, the Senators left over 200 amendments on the table without a vote, including those listed in the petition. The next step will be for the House of Representatives to take up its version of the Farm Bill. This could happen as early as next week.”

Both H.R. 1701 and S. 972 have been referred “to committee,” but no hearings are scheduled at this time.

During the “Talk Ten Tuesday” broadcast, Taller summarized the bills and noted that it was “hard to say” whether the bills have any validity. However, there is at least one concern: “Some individuals and providers may be delaying their work and the bills add fuel to fire to continue to delay.”

While we wait to see what happens with the bills, Taller urges providers to contact their congressional representatives and senators and “tell them all the positives, what’s been done to date in their respective organizations, and that we’re moving forward.”

Margareta Valdez, director of AHIMA’s congressional relations, took this message to Capitol Hill along with a coalition of industry representatives last Monday (June 10, 20113). Their goal was to deliver accurate information and dispel myths so that members of Congress could understand the system. The group answered questions about the industry’s state of readiness for implementation, the ICD-10 system’s legislative history, and current steps being made toward implementation.

“We brought a wealth of knowledge to the Hill and shared it with the congressional assistants,” Valdez reported. “Once they understood what ICD-10 is, they wanted to know what to say about resources and readiness when they spoke to constituents in their districts.”  (For resources, go to AHIMA’s site at http://www.ahima.org/icd10/default.aspx.)

Valdez explained that AHIMA’s 52 component associations include members who actively reach out to their communities and legislators. “We are asking members to become a resource for their communities,” she said. With that in mind, Valdez offered to connect congressional staffers with state-specific state AHIMA’s groups if help was needed.

For Sue Bowman, AHIMA’s coding policy and compliance director, the main message continues to be: stay focused and committed to meeting the October 1, 2014, compliance date.

As she says, “I-10 has been delayed for way too long already…This has resulted in a significant increase in implementation costs and lost opportunities associated with lack of access to better healthcare data that’s necessary to improve patient care. Continued reliance on deteriorating data is an outcome of the multi-year delay.”

Unfortunately, some in the industry don’t see it that way, noting that there’s too much going on in healthcare currently and they have too much on their plates. Bowman disagrees, saying, “It’s not just another burdensome initiative. I-10 is an essential component of the success of the national initiatives that are aimed at improving care and lowering costs. It’s all tied together. Once we get through this and see value it will have we will wish that we would have done it sooner.”

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Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Janis Oppelt

Janis keeps the wheel of words rolling for Panacea®'s publishing division. Her roles include researching, writing, and editing newsletters, special reports, and articles for RACMonitor.com and ICD10Monitor.com; coordinating the compliance question of the week; and contributing to the annual book-update process. She has 20 years of experience in topics related to Medicare regulations and compliance.