Even though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued deadlines for the healthcare-wide transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding, and then adjusted the deadlines to provide physicians with more time, some organizations are still resisting the mandate.
The original date for deployment was October 2011. Long gone, the CMS pushed it back to 2013 and is now considering adding another year to the timeline. However, the American Medical Association and the Medical Group Management Association have written letters to CMS, stating that a 2014 deadline is still unrealistic. Instead, the organizations have asked that it be extended one more year to 2015.
Unfortunately, the ever-changing deadlines are punishing those practices that took the CMS mandates to heart, and started implementing early. These delays are not only breeding uncertainty across the healthcare industry about the eventual deployment, but they are also postponing the realization of benefits from transitioning to an updated coding system.
The push for (another) delay
A recent letter from the AMA asked the CMS halt the deadline until October 2015 at least. The postponement would give the CMS time to reevaluate the financial and operational burdens ICD-10 implementation places on practices, according to Healthcare IT news. In fact, the letter suggested there might be an alternative to full deployment, such as adopting elements of the coding system instead of the entire thing.
In a similar move, the MGMA has asked for a staggered implementation that would allow certain stakeholders more time to get on board, according to healthcare IT. The organization suggested healthcare plans and clearinghouses adopt the systems one full year before practices are expected to comply.
Both of these requests have left some critics wondering if organizations will ever get on board, or will simply drag the process out until the CMS gives up, according to HealthData Management.
“A longer delay would seriously disrupt ongoing efforts to convert to ICD-10. And, as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services itself recognizes, a longer delay would significantly increase the costs of converting to ICD-10,” the College of Healthcare Information Management wrote in a letter to the secretary of HHS.
Benefits of implementing now
Despite the current challenges practices face with EHR adoption, attesting for meaningful use & implementing 5010, there are a number of benefits in store with ICD-10. One of those being, the ability to generate more accurate claims with a wider range of specific procedure and diagnosis codes which could help practices collect large reimbursements, faster.