BREAKING: ‘Doc Fix’/ICD-10 Bill Passes in the Senate | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

BREAKING NEWS: ‘Doc Fix’/ICD-10 Bill Passes U.S. Senate

March 31, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal and Mark Hagland
| Reprints
Presidential approval is expected next, which would confirm the one-year delay

On Monday, March 31, the U.S. Senate passed another temporary Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) "doc fix" bill, hours before automatic, 24-percent Medicare physician payment cuts would have gone into effect. The bill will now be sent to President Barack Obama, who can either veto it or sign it into law. Sources have told Healthcare Informatics that Presidential approval is expected. The bill passed by a vote of 64-35, with bipartisan support, as well as some bipartisan opposition.

The Senate vote comes four days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the one-year delay with its vote last Thursday afternoon. Released last week, the bill provides a 12-month delay to the March 31, 2014 expiration date of the SGR "doc fix.” The SGR, or sustainable growth rate formula, is the formula for physician payment established under Medicare since 1997, and has only been deployed a single year, with Congress authorizing annual "fixes" in its place.

The bill just passed by both houses of Congress also includes a one-year delay in the mandatory transition to the ICD-10 coding system, which was supposed to take effect on October 1 of this year. According to some sources, the language concerning the ICD-10 element of the SGR patch was created at the behest of a coalition of specialty medical societies under what is called a re-valued code provision.

Groups such as the Chicago-based American Medical Association, which has been down on the ICD-10 transition before, are overwhelmingly against another temporary fix to the SGR. Since the bill was announced, AMA has been actively attempting to get its members to overturn the temporary pay patch.

Additionally, the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) held a “virtual rally” against another ICD-10 compliance delay on Twitter. AHIMA has estimated that the delay could cost the industry between $1 billion and $6 billion.

Another industry group, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), also made its stance clear when its president and CEO, Russell P. Branzell, told HCI last week that it is way too late in the ICD-10 process to create a delay.

So while these organizations can’t be too thrilled with the results of today’s vote, not everyone in the industry is down on another delay. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), for one, recently laid out some of the positives to another delay to the compliance date of the coding system. Rob Tennant, senior policy adviser for MGMA, said that “a thousand different cogs that have to work smoothly” in order for ICD-10 to run and that many of those “cogs” are not ready. But for the most part, the bill has not been well received by healthcare advocacy groups.

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



MGMA: Physician Compensation Data Illustrates Nationwide PCP Shortage

Primary care physicians’ compensation rose by more than 10 percent over the past five years, representing an increase which is nearly double that of specialty physicians’ compensation over the same period, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Circulation, Buoy Health Collaborate on Integrated Platform for Patient Transportation

Boston-based startup Circulation Health, a ride-ordering exchange that coordinates medical transportation logistics using Lyft and other transportation partners, is partnering with Buoy Health, also based in Boston, to integrate their platforms to provide patients with an end-to-end healthcare experience.

HITRUST Provides NIST Cybersecurity Framework Certification

The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST), security and privacy standards development and accreditation organization, announced this week a certification program for the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (Framework).

Report: Interoperability in NHS England Faces Similar Barriers as U.S. Healthcare

Electronic patient record interoperability in NHS England is benefiting patient care, but interoperability efforts are facing barriers, including limited data sharing and cumbersome processes falling outside of the clinician workflow, according to a KLAS Research report.

Geisinger National Precision Health Hires Illumina Exec to Lead Business Development

Integrated health system Geisinger has hired a high-profile genetic counselor to head up business development for Geisinger National Precision Health, which was created to extend the Geisinger model on the national scene.

$30M VC Fund Launched to Spur Innovation in Cardiovascular Care

The American Heart Association, together with Philips and UPMC, has announced the launch of Cardeation Capital, a $30 million collaborative venture capital fund designed to spur healthcare innovation in heart disease and stroke care.