Electronic Health Records

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Senate passes one-year SGR patch, ICD-10 delay bill

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Without a single mention of ICD-10, the Senate has pushed back the compliance date for the next code set by a full year with the passing of legislation aimed at providing a one-year patch for the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

Although senators from both sides of the aisle were vocal in opposition of the patch — namely Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Tom Coburn, MD (R-OK) — and attempted to move the focus of the debate to the importance of paying for value rather than volume, a 17th-consecutive SGR patch passed with a vote of 64 to 35.

The bill sponsored by Representative Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and approved by the House of Representatives last Thursday — Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (HR 4302) — now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature to become law, which based on the bipartisan support of the bill should occur without issue.

 

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For more than three hours, members of the Senate debated the merits of the SGR repeal bill with the most agreeing with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the legislation was neither “perfect” nor “ideal” and the result of the two parties being unable to come to an agreement on a permanent solution to repealing SGR.

 

It is still unclear how delaying the ICD-10 compliance deadline became part of Section 212 of this latest SGR fix. What is clear is the lack of support for the delay by provider associations.

In speaking with the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the association’s President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, voice his and his membership’s displeasure with ICD-10 being made part of the SGR repeal.

“We’re generally not pleased that something as critical as ICD-10 becomes fodder for other legislation,” he told EHRIntelligence.com. “That’s an area that needs to either stand on its own and/or be discussed on its own. When you start combining all these programs together, none of them can be looked at on its own merits and concerns.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), and others were similarly disappointed, noting that their constituents who had already invested significant time, energy, and resources into being ready for Oct. 1, 2014, and beyond would now have to make do with the delay.

All these and other organizations are now left with the task of figuring out where ICD-10 fits into their plans moving forward.

 

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