The latest delay to the transition to the ICD-10 coding system must not last beyond a year, says a coalition that includes the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the American Health Information Management Association.
The delay will be both disruptive and costly for healthcare delivery innovation the group said in a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. The Coalition for ICD-10 also includes America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Informatics Association and the Health IT Now Coalition, among others.
The ICD-10 delay was part of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, the most recent law providing a 12-month patch to the sustainable growth rate payment formula that prevented deep Medicare payment cuts from going into effect.
"We urge that this delay not extend past October 2015, and that HHS announce Oct. 1, 2015, as the new implementation date for ICD-10 as soon as possible," the coalition said. "The enormous investment that is being made in accountable care organizations, Meaningful Use of electronic health records and value-based purchasing are all predicated on having a more precise and comprehensive diagnosis and procedure coding system that is up to date with the rapid changes in practices and technologies utilized in today's healthcare system."
The lack of a firm date makes preparation "extraordinarily difficult," AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon (pictured), said in a statement accompanying the letter.
"The announcement of the new implementation date will give the industry the clarity necessary to prepare in the most cost-effective, prudent and strategic way," she said.
CMS, in a recent post to its website, announced that it is "examining the implications" of the new law's ICD-10 provision and that guidance is forthcoming for providers and stakeholders.
Contrary to the coalition's assertions, Fitch Ratings, earlier this month, predicted that the delay will likely benefit not-for-profit hospitals.
"While the majority of hospital providers Fitch rates are prepared for the Oct. 1 transition, the potential disruption to the revenue cycle could have a negative credit impact on the sector [particularly on lower rated credits]," Fitch said in a statement.