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House Bill Proposes Halt to ICD-10 Implementation

May 5, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A new bill has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from replacing ICD-9 with ICD-10.

According to a May 4 post by the Journal of AHIMA (the American Health Information Management Association), the bill, H.R. 2126, would “prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from replacing ICD-9 with ICD-10 in implementing the HIPAA code set.” The current deadline for ICD-10 implementation is Oct. 1, 2015, and when the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) repeal bill was passed last month without ICD-10 language allowed in it, many in the industry assumed that the current deadline would stick.

Introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) on April 30, H.R. 2126 has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means. H.R. 2126 is co-sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Morgan H. Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), and Rep. David P. Roe (R-TN).

This is not the first time that Poe has proposed a bill to halt the transition to the new coding set. In 2013, he introduced The Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013 (H.R. 1701) that also asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to identify steps “to mitigate the disruption on healthcare providers resulting from a replacement of ICD-9.”  That bill failed to gain traction and was never taken up by the referred House committees, according to Congress.gov. Prior to that, Poe lambasted the ICD-10 system, citing the various ways the code envisions being injured by a turkey as a prime example of how the new system is excessive. "There is a code for being assaulted by a turkey for the first time, there is a code for being assaulted by the turkey a second time," Poe said in April of 2013. "There are nine codes. The doctor must get the right code or he's in violation of the law.”

According to the Journal of AHIMA post however, this new bill could face similar difficulty getting through the committee process and to the House floor for a vote. Rep. Poe is not on either referred committee, so would need to get a critical mass number of co-sponsors to support the bill, or find a champion on one of the two committees, for H.R. 2126 to even be considered by the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, the AHIMA post said. In fact, in February, this very committee held a hearing on the transition to ICD-10 that ended up being lopsided in favor of moving forward with the transition.

AHIMA, who has also strongly backed the transition to the new coding set, suggested that it could be unlikely the committee would hold another hearing on ICD-10. If taken up by one of the committees, a hearing would take place to debate the bill and possibly add amendments or modifications. If the bill still has support, it would be sent to the House floor for a vote, AHIMA said.

For what it’s worth, an exclusive survey recently done by Healthcare Informatics, in conjunction with QuantiaMD, a Waltham, Mass.-based social network for physicians, found that doctors—many of whom have come out against ICD-10—are not backing down in their distaste for the mandate.

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