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 ICD10 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



NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.