Organizations urge Congress to avoid further ICD-10 delays

A group of 15 organizations--including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, the American Health Information Management Association, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and America's Health Insurance Plans--is urging congressional leaders to ensure that no future delays to ICD-10 implementation take place.

In a recent letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the organizations--which call themselves the Coalition for ICD-10--say that prior delays have been "disruptive and costly," as well as an impediment to innovations in care delivery and payment reform.

"Nearly three-quarters of the hospitals and health systems surveyed just before the current delay were confident in their ability to successfully implement ICD-10," the letter reads. "Retraining personnel and reconfiguring systems multiple times in anticipation of the implementation of ICD-10 is unnecessarily driving up the cost of healthcare."

The letter comes on the heels of a recently published AHIMA survey that revealed that while larger organizations, for the most part, are ready for the transition, smaller organizations anticipate difficulties. At the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange's annual fall conference last month, American Medical Association President-Elect Steven Stack said his organization's policy is to "kill" the transition entirely.

In a recent ICD10Watch post, author Carl Natale says there's always the possibility another ICD-10 provision gets slipped into future attempts to kill the sustainable growth rate and its 24 percent cut to Medicare payments to physicians. The real impetus behind physician opposition, he says, is cost.

"If Congress finds a way to fund implementation costs for small medical practices and independent physicians, we're going to be using ICD-10 codes this year," Natale says. "[I]f someone crafts an ICD-10 stimulus act that finds some real money to help the small healthcare providers, they will need to persuade Congress to take the money from somewhere else associated with weak lobbyists."

The eHealth Initiative, in its recently unveiled roadmap for transforming health IT, calls compliance with ICD-10 by next October mandatory in order to advance health IT efforts.

A recent analysis published in the Journal of AHIMA concludes that ICD-10 costs may not be as burdensome as previously thought for small physician practices. However, Stanley Nachimson, founder and principal of Nachismon Advisors--which published a report on behalf of the AMA last February that came to the opposite conclusion--calls the new analysis "misleading," in a new post to ICD10 Monitor.

"The AHIMA article omits and/or minimizes several critical tasks for practices, misstates the sources of the Nachimson Advisors estimates used for productivity losses and minimizes the efforts that practices must undertake to ensure a successful implementation," he says.

To learn more:
- here's the Coalition of ICD-10's letter (.pdf)
- check out Natale's ICD10Watch post
- read Nachimson's ICD10 Monitor post

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