July 16, 2013

Congress Advised Not to Delay ICD-10 Implementation


Citing a research study conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) reporting that nearly 95 percent of surveyed hospitals are on track to implement ICD-10 by the mandatory compliance date of October 2014, the AHA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield told Congress in a joint letter that they oppose any action to delay implementation of the new code set.


The letter was posted on the AHA website on Friday, July 10. It was signed by Rick Pollack, executive vice president of the AHA, and Alissa Fox, senior vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

“Any delay in implementation threatens to increase costs, as investments already made will not be fully leveraged and may need to be duplicated,” the letter read. “Insurers and hospitals will spend the next several months readying their information systems for the installation of ICD-10 vendor software.”

The letter noted that of the 750 hospitals participating in the AHA survey, 94 percent “felt fairly confident” that they could meet the mandatory compliance date. The letter also referenced a competing priority identified in the survey — meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs).

“The adoption of ICD-10 is seen as an integral part of the EHR and will provide solid and detailed information to guide the innovations taking place in the delivery of health care services, such as patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations,” it stated. “The more detailed information will support additional advances, such as development of quality measures that target outcomes of care and targeted disease management approaches.”

The AHA letter to Congress comes nearly two months after a similar letter was issued by a coalition of healthcare associations and vendors on May 17. Industry observers had hoped that the AHA would have been a signatory to that letter, joining several healthcare associations and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

In that letter, the coalition warned congressional leaders that delaying the adoption of ICD-10 further would make it more difficult for the U.S. to track “new and emerging public health threats.”

Copies of the earlier letter were sent to leaders in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Coalition members said “the transition to ICD-10 is time-sensitive” and noted that relying on ICD-9 is not an option.

The latest letter comes on the heels of last month’s meeting of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates, during which the AMA issued a policy statement demanding a two-year “grace period” -– during which private and commercial payers would not deny medical claims because of coding errors.



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AHA Letter

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Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.