AHA urges CMS to start ICD-10 testing by January 2014

The American Hospital Association is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expedite its ICD-10 testing plans to make sure testing begins by January 2014 and that it is made available to all hospitals.

Though AHA recognizes CMS wants to educate providers on ICD-10, "extensive, end-to-end testing by Medicare contractors and state Medicaid agencies of both the electronic transaction and the adjudication of the claim will be needed to ensure a smooth transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10," Linda E. Fishman, senior vice president of public policy analysis and development for AHA, wrote in the organization's Nov. 20 letter to CMS.

According to AHA, successful testing requires two essential components:

  • Testing connectivity and the transaction exchange for a claim containing ICD-10 codes: This must be done, AHA argues, to ensure any changes made to accommodates the codes do not create exchange problems.
  • Testing the provider's and payer's availability to correctly handle the ICD-10 content as part of the claims adjudication process: "This step will allow hospitals to identify and correct any errors in their documentation processes," AHA writes.

AHA is ready to help CMS define specifics of the testing process and spread information about it. Officials also advise that all Medicare contractors have the same "go-live" testing date.

"The transition to ICD-10 is important to our understanding of health care delivery and requires cooperation from all parties--health care providers, public and private payers and clearinghouses," AHA writes.

Back in July, in letters to both House and Senate members, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Senior Vice President Alissa Fox offered support for the move to ICD-10, saying that "any delay in implementation threatens to increase cost."

"Given that considerable effort and investment already have been made, our organizations oppose any action that seeks to introduce further delay in ICD-10 implementation," they said.

Research released in June by the Medical Group Management Association found that only 4.8 percent of more than 1,200 responding medical groups had made "significant" progress in their ICD-10 implementation efforts.

To learn more:
- see the letter (.pdf) from AHA to CMS

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ICD-10 not mandatory in proposed legislation
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