ICD-10 bill calls for transition grace period

If proposed legislation is your bag, then ICD-10 truly is the gift that keeps on giving. The latest example comes in the form of H.R. 2652, also known as the Protecting Patients and Physicians Against Coding Act of 2015, introduced June 4 by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala., pictured).

The bill seeks to provide a grace period of two years for providers set to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 this October. During the grace period, physicians and other providers would not be "penalized for errors, mistakes and malfunctions relating to the transition." Providers who fail to make the transition by Oct. 1 run the risk of not being paid for their efforts; Palmer, in a statement, says the grace period would allow physicians to work out the "kinks" in the transition.

"The ongoing implementation of ICD-10 creates significant hurdles for rural and small town healthcare providers," Palmer says. "ICD-10 includes a five-fold increase in coding, which threatens to hurt productivity, increase mistakes either from human or technological errors and create confusion and difficulties as a result."

The bill also calls on the Comptroller General to conduct a study on the extent to which the ICD-10 transition affects physicians and other providers, and the effectiveness of programs designed by the Health and Human Services Department to support providers throughout the shift. A report on the study would be due to Congress by April 1, 2016.

At its annual meeting in Chicago this past week, the American Medical Association, at the behest of Alabama urologist William Jefferson Terry, also called for a two-year grace period for the transition to ICD-10. Terry served as one of seven witness to testify at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health on ICD-10 in February, saying that a hasty "big bang" transition has potential to "do irreparable harm" to patients and physicians.

In a letter sent to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt on June 1, House lawmakers called on the agency to make public any contingency plans it might have for the ICD-10 transition. A House bill, introduced last month by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.)--who also signed the letter to Slavitt--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.

In addition, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced legislation in late April that would ban outright the use of the code set.

To learn more:
- check out the new bill
- here's the accompanying announcement

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