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Breaking: HHS Announces Delay to ICD-10 Compliance

February 16, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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In a move that really shouldn’t come as a shock after the recent announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner that the ICD-10 implementation timeframe would be re-examined,  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius has announced that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will "postpone the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and procedure codes (ICD-10)."

The final rule adopting ICD-10 as a standard was published in January 2009 and set a compliance date of Oct. 1, 2013 – a delay of two years from the compliance date initially specified in the 2008 proposed rule.  HHS will announce a new compliance date moving forward.

“ICD-10 codes are important to many positive improvements in our health care system,” Sebelius said in a statement.  “We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead.  We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our health care system.”

HHS says ICD-10 codes provide more robust and specific data that will help improve patient care and enable the exchange of our health care data with that of the rest of the world that has long been using ICD-10.  Entities covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) will be required to use the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes.

The move will likely be applauded by industry organizations like the American Medical Association (AMA), which has released numerous statements in favor of delaying ICD-10 implementation. Peter W. Carmel, M.D. president of the AMA, said in a statement:

"The American Medical Association appreciates Secretary Sebelius' swift response to address the AMA’s serious concerns with ICD-10 implementation. The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources implementing electronic health records in their practices and trying to comply with multiple quality and health information technology programs that include penalties for noncompliance. Burdens on physician practices need to be reduced - not created - as the nation's health care system undertakes significant payment and delivery reforms. 

No word yet from groups such as the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) that were in favor of keeping the Oct. 1 compliance in place.

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