The Coalition for ICD-10, a broad-based healthcare industry advocacy group, has sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them not to delay the ICD-10 implementation date again.
In April, President Barack Obama signed into law the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 to patch the sustainable growth rate formula for Medicare physician pay. Section 212 of the law delayed ICD-10 implementation until October 1, 2015.
In the Nov. 12 letter, the coalition wrote, “ICD-10 implementation delays have been disruptive and costly for all of the coalition members, as well as to healthcare delivery innovation, payment reform, public health, and healthcare spending. As you know, significant investments were made by members of our coalition to prepare for the October 2014 implementation prior to enactment of the most recent delay. Many of us had to quickly reconfigure systems and processes that were prepared to use ICD-10 back to ICD-9. Newly trained coders who graduated from ICD-10 focused programs were unprepared to find jobs using the older code set.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has estimated the cost of the most recent delay at $6.8 billion; further delays beyond October 1, 2015 range from $1 billion to $6.6 billion in additional costs, the letter stated. “Nearly three quarters of the hospitals and health systems surveyed just before the current delay were confident in their ability to successfully implement ICD-10. Retraining personnel and reconfiguring systems multiple times in anticipation of the implementation of ICD-10 is unnecessarily driving up the cost of healthcare.”
The coalition says its members are engaging in significant efforts to identify and educate those in need of assistance to be ready for the 2015 implementation, including payer-provider collaboratives, training and outreach initiatives, and programs to help coders maintain their new code set skills.