ICD-10 not mandatory in proposed legislation

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Healthcare providers would not be required to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets under a bill (H.R. 1701) introduced to Congress last week by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas). Poe, earlier in April, slammed the new system as excessive, calling it "red tape" and "bureaucracy" typical of "clueless big government."

ICD-10 expands the 18,000 codes in ICD-9 for various injuries and diseases to more than 140,000 total codes. Providers, payers and vendors will have to learn upward of 50,000 new medical diagnosis codes, in addition to 70,000 new procedure codes.

The bill--dubbed the "Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013"--was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the Committee on Ways and Means. It prohibits the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services from enforcing a switch to ICD-10, and also calls for the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study to "identify steps that can be taken to mitigate the disruption on healthcare providers resulting from a replacement of ICD-9."

At an ICD-10 summit held in Baltimore last month, Kathleen Frawley, president and chair of the American Health Information Management Association--which supports ICD-10 implementation--said she worries that providers won't be ready on Oct. 1, 2014.

"My concern is that when we get to the AHIMA conference in October, we will only be 11 months out, and they are sitting on the sideline," Frawley said, according to ICD-10 Monitor. "I am concerned about the people who think there will be a delay."

Several recent surveys have shown that providers are continuing to drag their feet when it comes to beginning the implementation process, despite the transition already being delayed one year by HHS. Officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services--including Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and Denise Buenning, deputy director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services--have reiterated time and again this year that there will not be another delay.

The American Medical Association continues to insist that the transition to ICD-10 will place a tremendous burden on providers, particularly small practice physicians. Last May, AMA called for a two-year delay of ICD-10 to Oct. 1, 2015.

To learn more:
- here's the bill
- read the ICD-10 Monitor article

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