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“Let’s face it, guys,” ICD-10 will go ahead on October 1, 2014

By Jennifer Bresnick

If you’re still banking on an ICD-10 delay, you might want to prepare yourself for yet another disappointment.  At HIMSS14 last week, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner stated once again that no such postponement is in the cards, and providers either need to get ready or prepare to stop getting paid.  “There are no more delays and the system will go live on October 1,” Tavenner said during her keynote address to attendees of the conference in Orlando, Florida. “Let’s face it guys, we’ve delayed this several times and it’s time to move on.”

The deadline has many stakeholders worried about the impact of the hard cut-over from ICD-9 to ICD-10, with some vendors still developing ICD-10 compliant products and many providers and payers deeply concerned about inadequate testing procedures before the new code set goes live.  While the Medicare testing week is taking place as we speak, and CMS recently announced a limited end-to-end pilot for some sample providers, the generally lackluster effort to engage the industry in testing has a number of experts on edge.

Among the most vocal about the upcoming doomsday is the American Medical Association, which has been advocating for an indefinite postponement of the new codes.  In response to Tavenner’s latest remarks, AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said, “Many physicians are still waiting for their vendors to deliver updated software they need to use the ICD-10 codes. The later physicians receive this software, the harder it will become to test it out before the October 1ICD-10 deadline.”

“Testing is needed to discover problems and resolve them prior to the go live date. The slightest glitch in the ICD-10 rollout could potentially cause a billion dollar back-log of medical claims that jeopardizes physician practices and disrupts patients’ access to care,” Hoven continued in a public statement. “The AMA is deeply concerned that Medicare does not have a back-up plan if last minute testing demonstrates anticipated problems with this massive coding transition. At the end of the day sticking hard and fast to the ICD-10 deadline without a back-up plan to address disruptions in medical claims processing will hurt doctors and their patients.”

To help providers overcome the big hurdles standing between them and ICD-10 success, CMS has released a flurry of transition tools, such as detailed end-to-end preparation checklists and resources from its eHealth University.  Educational sessions at HIMSS14, including a Q&A presentation by the HIMSS ICD-10 Taskforce, also attempted to prepare providers for the upcoming changes.

Tavenner’s assertion is the latest in a series of CMS statements reaffirming the October 1 transition date.  As early as August of 2013, Pat Brooks, RHIA, Senior Technical Advisor at CMS, warned providers that there would be no extensions, and urged the industry to listen.  “There will be no more delays,” she said during a National Provider Call.  “Those who are postponing ICD-10 implementation planning, thinking there might be additional delays, should really begin to plan implementation now.  There will be no more delays to the ICD-10 implementation date.”

 

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