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Hospital Groups Call for Avoiding Another ICD-10 Delay

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

Hospital groups have written a letter to leaders of Congress asking the latter to avoid another ICD-10 delay.

- With less than ten months to go before healthcare organizations and providers need to comply with most recent ICD-10 transition deadline, the standoff between proponents and opponents of the 2015 ICD-10 compliance date is increasing in intensity.

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A band of hospital and health system associations have written a letter to leaders of Congress asking the latter to avoid another ICD-10 delay. A total of eight industry groups have undersigned the petition:

  • America’s Essential Hospitals
  • American Hospital Association
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Catholic Health Association of the United States
  • Children’s Hospital Association
  • National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems
  • Premier healthcare alliance
  • VHA Inc.

“As the organizations representing more than 5,000 hospitals and health systems across the country, we strongly support the announced October 1, 2015 ICD-10 compliance date and oppose any steps to delay,” the organizations write. “Recent ICD-10 implementation delays have been disruptive and costly for hospitals and health systems, as well as to health care delivery innovation, payment reform, public health, and health care payment.”

The letter to Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) specifically recalls the setbacks resulting from the most recent one-year delay of ICD-10 implementation from 2014 to 2015:

The delay added billions of dollars in extra costs. Many of our members had to quickly reconfigure systems and processes that were prepared to use ICD-10 back to ICD-9. Newly trained coders who graduated from ICD-10 focused programs were unprepared for use of the older code set and needed to be retrained back to using ICD-9. Further, training of existing coders needed to be repeated given the one-year delay. This results in a doubling of costs that are not productive. A further delay would only add additional costs as existing investments would be further wasted and future costs would grow.

The advocacy by the hospital and health system associations comes shortly after Medical Society of the State of New York and Texas Medical Association called on their members to persuade Congress to implement two-year ICD-10 delay until 2017. Those provider association have highlighted the negative financial implications for physician practices if an industry-wide ICD-10 implementation failed on Oct. 1, 2015.  The letter’s timing of December 5 also coincides with the message delivered by the Coalition for ICD-10 following remarks by American Medical Association President Robert Wah, MD, that contained arguments against and jokes about new code set.

Based on the types of organizations working in favor and against an additional ICD-10, a division clearly exists between hospitals and hospitals and physician practices. While advocates for the latter reiterate the readiness of their constituents, their counterparts see nothing bad negative consequences ahead for their members. And this division likely to puts to be any lingering doubts about the forces behind the most recent ICD-10 delay.

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