Four major medical organizations have echoed the American Medical Association's plea for a two-year grace period that would allow physicians to transition to the new coding system without penalty. In a letter to the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), leaders from the four largest state medical associations, Texas, California, Florida and New York, call on CMS to make the following provisions as soon as possible:
- A two-year period during which physicians will not receive penalties for errors, mistakes or malfunctions of the coding system
- A two-year period in which physicians will not be subject to RAC audits related to ICD-10 coding mistakes
- A two-year period during which physician payments will not be reduced or withheld based on ICD-10 coding mistakes
- Advance payments in the event that claims are delayed
"We believe that two years of transition time, on-the-job learning by physicians--plus our continued ICD-10 educational activities--will result in a much less disastrous transition to this overwhelmingly complicated new coding system," the letter states.
The letter to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt also cites the results of recent end-to-end testing conducted by CMS, yielding an 88 percent acceptance rate, as giving physicians "little confidence" all players will be ready to convert to ICD-10 on Oct.1 without problems.
Relatively few physician practices have conducted their own testing thus far, Medscape Medical News reported. According to an eHealth Initiative survey conducted in conjunction with the American Health Information Management Association, just 17 percent of physician practices have conducted test transactions with payers and clearinghouses, and only 5 percent have completed internal testing.
However, 41 percent of practices have trained staff on ICD-10 and 36 percent have performed technical system upgrades/updates to support ICD-10, according to the survey, while hospitals are far more prepared.