ICD-10 delay draws mixed reviews

Several groups have issued comments regarding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services's announcement that it will delay of ICD-10 implementation until Oct. 1, 2014.

Among them, is the Medical Group Management Association, which expressed concern that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services did not take particular care to prevent physician practices from experiencing "debilitating cash flow disruptions."

MGMA President and CEO Susan Turney said in a statement that the group wants to see ICD-10 pilot tested before it is rolled out.

Meanwhile, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives President and CEO Richard Correll said his organization was pleased with the delay--but adds that the industry can't put off the coding overhaul much longer.

"[A]s HHS itself recognizes, a longer delay would significantly increase the costs of converting to ICD-10," he said in a statement. "[W]e urge the department to develop a clear path forward, with benchmarks, so that healthcare industry stakeholders can make the conversion in 2014."

The decision to push back the timeline for healthcare organizations to convert to the ICD-10 coding system to Oct. 1, 2014 was not a big surprise, although the pros and cons of doing so have been hotly debated.

The main argument in favor of delay: The sheer number of government programs and deadlines that health IT leaders and organizations face. 

The American Medical Association gave a nod to CMS for the delay, but still expressed concern over that issue in its statement today. 

"HHS has announced a one year delay of ICD-10 implementation--now scheduled for October 1, 2014," the statement said. "The AMA appreciates the administration's decision to provide a one year delay in response to AMA advocacy, but we have urged CMS to do more to reduce the regulatory burdens on physician practices so physicians can spend more time with patients. The AMA recommended that CMS delay the move to ICD-10 by a minimum of two years."

According to an announcement, which comes on the heels of the unveiling of the final rule for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, CMS also will establish a unique health plan identifier.

"We believe the change in the compliance date for ICD-10 gives covered healthcare providers and other covered entities more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition by all covered entities," the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said in its rule.

As FierceHealthIT reported last week, the American Health Information Management Association was pleased with the decision.

"ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation is inevitable, but today's news gives the healthcare community the certainty and clarity it needs to move forward with implementation, testing and training," AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said in a statement. "We realize that a few are still apprehensive about the implementation process, and that is why AHIMA remains committed to assisting the healthcare community with its transition to a new code set that will lead to improved patient care and reduced costs."

The Health Information and Management Systems Society also praised CMS for giving the industry just a little more breathing room to prepare for compliance.

To learn more:
- here's the MGMA statement 
- here's the CHIME  statement
- check out the AHIMA statement
- here's HIMSS' view
- see the AMA response
- see the final rule (.pdf)
- read the HHS announcement