AHA, AHIMA laud early release of new ICD-10 codes

Both the American Hospital Association and the American Health Information Management Association this week lauded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the early release of thousands of new ICD-10 procedure coding system (PCS) and clinical modification (CM) codes prior to Oct. 1.

The codes are part of a backlog of ones that were not updated due to a partial code freeze that runs until Oct. 1 of this year. The PCS codes, which total 3,651, were posted to CMS's website earlier this month, while the CDC this week released 1,943 CM codes.

AHA Director of Coding and Classification Nelly Leon-Chisen called her organization "grateful" for the early release of the codes, in a statement.

AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon also applauded the decision, touting the additional preparation time and the enhanced specificity the codes will provide.

"This is information that will be very important for these physicians and their patients," AHIMA Director of HIM Practice Excellence Angie Comfort added. "Over time, this more granular data should provide insight for doctors that can help patient outcomes."

Robert Tennant, director of health information technology policy at the Medical Group Management Association, told FierceHealthIT he expects the number of CM diagnosis codes to continue to grow over the next few years.

"These new codes will require clinicians and coders to be brought up to speed to ensure they are able to identify the most appropriate code for the claim," he said.

The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 had been delayed three times, including once by Congress, before it was finally official last fall.

While CMS touted a relatively smooth transition, Holly Louie, 2016 president of the Healthcare Billing and Management Association, said in a recent post that the switch has had its share of hiccups for the revenue cycle industry.

Out of about 262 million claims processed between Oct. 1, 2015, and Feb. 15, 2016, which totaled $810 billion, 1.6 percent were denied, according to a report by RelayHealth Financial.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA statement
- check out the AHIMA statement (.pdf)

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