100 days to ICD-10: Where the industry stands

The implementation deadline for ICD-10 is only 100 days away, but lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to push for transition periods or an outright ban of the code set while surveys reveal that participation in testing still lags. 

Despite numerous delays for ICD-10 in the past, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health made clear at a February hearing that they do not want to see the transition delayed yet again.

However, in March, 100 physician groups--led by the American Medical Association--expressed concern in a letter to Acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Andrew Slavitt about ICD-10 issues such as testing and lack of contingency planning.

And in the last couple of months both Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) have released separate bills that ask for a grace period for the transition. Black's bill would require end-to-end testing of the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 by the Health and Human Services Department, and would provide an 18-month transition period to the new code set. Palmer's bill seeks to provide a grace period of two years during which physicians and other providers would not be "penalized for errors, mistakes and malfunctions relating to the transition."

At the same time, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) takes it even further--his bill wouldn't simply delay the new code set; it would ban its use outright.

Meanwhile, the Coalition for ICD-10 asserts that a grace period would compromise the ability of Medicare to monitor quality of care. In addition, Juliet Santos, ICD-10 principal consultant for Leidos Health, wrote in an opinion piece at ICD-10 Monitor that the grace period could be a massive risk when it comes to audits.

Recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said its second round of ICD-10 testing, which involved 875 providers, clearinghouses and billing agencies in April, had an 88 percent acceptance rate. However, a new survey from eHealth Initiative released last week found testing lagging among 271 providers polled. Only 34 percent said they have completed internal testing and just 17 percent have completed external testing.