After months of speculation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as expected, finalized Oct. 1, 2015, as the new compliance date for providers and payers to transition to ICD-10.
An announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late Thursday said that ICD-9-CM contains "outdated, obsolete terms that are inconsistent" with current medical practices, adding that ICD-10 represents "a significant change."
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"ICD-10 codes will provide better support for patient care, and improve disease management, quality measurement and analytics," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. "For patients under the care of multiple providers, ICD-10 can help promote care coordination."
The transition was delayed last spring when a measure unexpectedly was dropped into legislation for a 12-month patch to the sustainable growth rate payment formula. Wording for the measure was ambiguous, stating that the HHS secretary "may not, prior to Oct. 1, 2015, adopt ICD-10 code sets as the standard for code sets."
Ultimately, federal officials said they chose the Oct. 1, 2015, to avoid "costly" and "damaging" effects on the industry.
"For example, extending the delay beyond one year could render current ICD-10 system updates and releases obsolete, which would diminish the investments stakeholders have already made to prepare for the ICD-10 transition," officials noted in a post to the Federal Register.
The American Health Information Management Association, in a statement emailed to FierceHealthIT, lauded the confirmation.
"Now everyone in the healthcare community has the necessary certainty to move forward with their implementation processes, including testing and training."
Added AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, "As a long-time supporter of ICD-10, AHIMA is pleased that patients and other stakeholders will soon experience the benefits of a modern and robust coding system with greater specificity about diagnoses and procedures."