ICD-10 delayed after SGR patch passes Senate

Implementation of ICD-10 will be delayed by at least one more year after the Senate voted, 64-35, Monday evening to approve a temporary, 12-month patch to the sustainable growth rate payment formula that will prevent deep Medicare payment cuts.

The measure to delay ICD-10--part of H.R. 4302, The Protecting Access to Medicare Act--states that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services "may not, prior to Oct. 1, 2015, adopt ICD-10 code sets as the standard for code sets."

The American Health Information Management Association expressed disappointment with the vote, saying in a statement that it will seek "immediate clarification on a number of technical issues such as the exact length of the delay."

"As demands for quality healthcare data continue to increase, this delay will add an additional significant hurdle for the healthcare system to fill these important HIM positions," AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said. "It is truly unfortunate that Congress chose to embed language about delaying ICD-10 into legislation intended to address the need for an SGR fix in their effort to temporarily address the long outstanding and critically important physician payment issues."

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services had continually said no further delays would be enacted.

After announcing in February that it would conduct 'end-to-end' testing for some providers for the ICD-10 implementation process, CMS this month specified that the testing will take place at the end of July. Five-hundred volunteers will be selected for the testing, which includes 32 testers from each Medicare Administrative Contractor. The testing comes in the wake of criticism by the American Medical Association, which published a report in February concluding that ICD-10 implementation costs will be more expensive than previous estimates for physician practices. Several groups--including the Medical Group Management Association, the American Hospital Association and the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange--previously had called for CMS to consider end-to-end testing in preparation for the switch.

In August 2012, HHS pushed back the implementation of ICD-10 from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014.

Hospital CIOs were not happy at the prospect of a delay when reached for comment by FierceHealthIT last week.

"Too many investments in time and money have gone in on this one to just say 'nope, not doing it,'" Roger Neal, VP and CIO at Duncan (Okla.) Regional Hospital, told FierceHealthIT via email. "Isn't it funny how healthcare gets slammed for being too expensive, yet we spend billions making shifts like this, [only] to turn around and have the rug yanked out from under us, which wastes billions in the process?"

According to AHIMA, CMS estimates that a 1 year delay could cost between $1 billion to $6.6 billion.