The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Thursday that they plan to delay ICD-10. With no specifics on what this delay will entail, it’s causing a lot of confusion and speculation about what is to come. We feel it was very irresponsible for HHS and the Obama Administration to make those statements without giving a clear plan.
As we stated back in November when the AMA began opposing ICD-10, we disagree with a delay. We firmly believe conversion to ICD-10 is long overdue and delaying it will only increase health care costs and the burden on everyone.
We are very disappointed with HHS’ decision, which contradicts everything they have been saying. On CMS’ November 17th national provider call, representative Pat Brooks said, “This is a firm implementation date, and there will be no delay.” CMS and HHS have been adamant all along that there would not be a delay. In turn, the health care community has spent a lot of time and money investing in new processes and systems. By going back on their statements, they are continuing to lose credibility.
Vendors, as well as publishers, educators, colleges, consultants, and many others, have already spent millions of dollars getting ready for conversion. It has even spurred job creation— for example new positions like ICD-10 Project Manager. Even health care providers like hospitals and home care agencies have invested significant resources into the transition. With a delay, all of these groups will have to re-work what they've already done and it will cost more money. This added cost for vendors will be pushed down to providers, and then consumers.
This decision also has a lot of political pressure and motives behind it. CMS’ Acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner made the announcement that they would re-evaluate the timeline at an AMA meeting. It’s important to note Tavenner is currently vying for the official appointment and AMA backed her nomination in November.
We’re also concerned about HHS’ use of the term "compliance" date, suggesting ICD-10 will be implemented per schedule, but providers will have a leeway period where they won't be found in non-compliance. In some instances a leeway period makes sense, for example with the new Face-to-Face requirements, claims were allowed to go through for three months after implementation. But if this happens with ICD-10, it can be extremely harmful because vendors will have to work in two different sets of codes at once, in turn driving up costs and administrative burden even more.
While we anxiously await HHS’ new plan, we’ll continue our planning with the October 1, 2013 deadline in mind. We suggest no one stop in their preparations and hopefully we will quickly receive a revised plan from HHS.
Our hope is that the delay is brief because the shift to ICD-10 is a big step to improving health care in this country. It will make our healthcare system more efficient and cost effective and improve the level of care that this nation needs.
We're here to make the transition to ICD-10 pain-free and easy for home care agencies. Please contact us anytime to discuss how your organization can have a smooth transition.