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AHA, AMA respond to new CMS proposal for ICD-10 deadline

With the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) currently working on its interim to implement the new compliance date for ICD-10, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and American Medical Association (AMA) have indicated their positions relative to the proposed implementation deadline of Oct. 1, 2015.
In public statement last Friday, AHA Director of Policy Chantal Worzala, MPA, PhD, explained her organization’s view of the decision by CMS to pursue the earliest possible date under Protecting Patient Access to Medicare Act as the new deadline for ICD-10 compliance.
Although the AHA’s comments do not oppose Oct. 1, 2015 as the new ICD-10 deadline, they do not clearly support it either. Concerns about timing have the association urging CMS to move quickly with its interim final rule so that the industry has a clear target and can avoid further setbacks:
The AHA appreciates the notice from CMS and urges the agency to release the interim final rule as quickly as possible so that the hospital field has a detailed understanding of how the delay will be implemented, and the certainty of a final rule that codifies October 1, 2015.
The CMS announcement has given AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, an opportunity to reiterate her organization’s longstanding opposition to ICD-10 and the financial burdens it has imposed on physician practices:
The AMA has long considered ICD-10 to be an unfunded mandate that comes at a time when physicians are being asked to make a number of other significant changes to their practices.  While the AMA did not support the legislation that extended the ICD-10 deadline because it failed to reform Medicare’s flawed payment formula, we believe a delay would have been inevitable for a coding system that has not completed end-to-end testing. The postponement will give physicians extra time to work with vendors on necessary system updates, train their staff, and test the ICD-10 changes with payers, clearinghouses and others.
Apparently, the AMA wants to distance itself from the notion that it was responsible for the most recent postponement of ICD-10 by indicating its opposition to the “Doc Fix” — that is, the temporary patch for addressing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and its effect on Medicare payments.
Additionally, the AMA still doubts whether the extra time will prove enough without the willingness of key healthcare stakeholders to perform all the activities necessary to ensuring that disruptions are avoid, particularly those impacting the reimbursement of physicians:
The AMA calls on the industry to use the extra time to conduct more robust and widespread testing on all aspects of ICD-10, including its application in reimbursement and quality reporting systems. We continue to harbor deep concerns about the burden this transition places on physicians, the complexity of ICD-10, the high risk of disruptions to Medicare claims and the industry’s capability of converting to ICD-10 on a single date.
CMS has already begun its work to adjust its plans for ICD-10 by canceling the ICD-10 end-to-end test pilot scheduled for July. As the federal agency moves forward with its adjustments, it remains unclear what kind of support CMS can expect from industry stakeholders considering the unpopular nature of ICD-10 from the onset.
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