Updated on: March 17, 2016

Could ICD-10 Delay Have Been Defeated?

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Original story posted on: April 7, 2014

The American Heath Information Management Association’s (AHIMA’s) Margarita Valdez yesterday said that members of the organization felt that they had enough votes to halt HR 4302 from becoming law when the bill came up for vote on the U.S. House of Representatives floor on last Thursday.

 

Earlier that week, AHIMA had alerted its members that the House would take up legislation on the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that included a one-year delay of ICD-10 implementation to Oct. 1, 2015. The provision for extending the delay was tucked into the House bill, which extends the SGR for an additional 12 months rather than offering a permanent solution to the much-maligned “doc fix,” shorthand for 1997 Balanced Budget Act that attempted to rein in reimbursement to physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries. Without the “doc fix,” physicians would have suffered from a drastic 24-percent reduction in reimbursement effective April 1, 2014.

Last Monday, the U.S. Senate approved the measure — there known as the Protecting Access to Medicare Act — by a vote of 64-35. On Tuesday, the president signed the law into effect, including the language that prohibits the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from implementing ICD-10 before October 2015.

Recalling the events leading up to the House vote, Valdez, AHIMA’s director of congressional relations, told Talk Ten Tuesdays' radio audience that the bill very nearly was dead on arrival.

“When the bill came up for a vote on the House floor, under ‘rules of suspension,’ our members had clearly weighed in with their legislators,” Valdez said during the broadcast. “We strongly feel that we had the votes to stop HR 4302 from passing.”

The Republican-controlled House called up the bill under the suspension of House rules allowing for a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The measure passed by voice vote.

Referring to how the bill was passed, Valdez described the controversy surrounding the legislative maneuver that avoided the defeat of what many in both parties considered to be a must-pass piece of legislation.

“There was a lot of controversy with the fact that many legislators were opposed to this bill,” Valdez said. “The actual voice vote occurred when most legislators were not in the room to cast their vote.”

Since then, Valdez said that AHIMA has received “many emails” from congressional offices expressing disappointment with the outcome. Typical of the responses the association has received are these, she noted: “We were not aware that this vote was going to occur…(and) we were opposed to it.”

“We don’t support this legislation and would have objected to (it) had we known what was happening at the time,” Valdez said, quoting from an email written by an unnamed legislative staff member.

AHIMA continues to urge its members to stay the course in preparing for the transition to ICD-10, whenever it comes —definitely not before October 2015.

Listen to Talk Ten Tuesdays podcast "ICD-10: The Delay - Industry Reaction" recorded on April 8, 2014.

 

Chuck Buck

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

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