MGMA calls for external ICD-10 testing

Medical Group Management Association President and CEO Susan Turney is "extremely concerned" that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will not conduct ICD-10 testing with external trading partners, like physician practices.

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this morning, Turney (pictured) said that such testing could help to avoid a potential "catastrophic back-log of Medicare claims" after the Oct. 1, 2014, compliance date passes. "Failure to do so could result in significant cash flow disruption for physicians and their practices, and serious access to care issues for Medicare patients," she said.

Last month, Cathy Carter, director of the business application management group for CMS' Office of Information Services said that there was never any plan to test health providers "all the way through" ICD-10, addressing questions raised by a CMS announcement released in May. Still, CMS plans to conduct internal testing of its own systems to assess ICD-10 readiness.

In similar situations, Turney said, Medicare has committed to testing with external trading partners; for instance, she called CMS' "National HIPAA 5010 Testing Week, in which providers were encouraged to test directly with Medicare, "highly successful."

"This deviation from the traditional Medicare testing policy and inconsistent messaging have sharply increased the apprehension that physician practices already feel regarding the implementation of ICD-10," she added.

Research released last month by MGMA found that only 4.8 percent of more than 1,200 responding medical groups had made "significant" progress in their ICD-10 implementation efforts. Turney, in a statement, said that the data suggested that many practices are "in the dark" with regard to the transition.

To learn more:
- read the letter