HHS calls ICD-10 timeout
IT groups criticize postponement of ICD-10 deadline
It was an off-week for federal regulatory consistency. CMS acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threw under the bus their own Oct. 1, 2013 deadline for the U.S. healthcare industry’s massive and federally mandated conversion to the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes.
No new date was given for the ICD-10 rollout. There were even mixed messages from the CMS and HHS about how a new ICD-10 compliance deadline would be set, whether by rule-making or some other process
Neither the CMS nor HHS responded to requests for information about the process or the timeline. HHS initially set the 2013 deadline back in January 2009, using its authority under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The mandate to replace the old and inadequate ICD-9 codes in current use with the significantly larger, more complex but also aging ICD-10 code sets applies to all HIPAA “covered entities,” including hospitals, physicians, health plans and claims clearinghouses.
The change left many in the healthcare industry scratching their heads, while others heralded the reset as a wise move.
Since November, the American Medical Association has been calling on federal officials to halt the ICD-10 rollout. The AMA “appreciates Secretary Sebelius’ swift response,” AMA President Dr. Peter Carmel said in a statement. Carmel said the “timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse” because of the simultaneous demands of implementing electronic health records and complying with various IT and quality programs.
Hospitals likewise welcomed the breathing room. Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, the for-profit hospital trade group, called the delay “a constructive response. “The hospitals that I represent are moving forward rapidly with implementation, but it’s challenging,” Kahn said.
Not all industry groups back an ICD-10 delay. Dr. Edward Shortliffe, president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association, said in an e-mailed statement that the AMIA “supports proceeding with the planned ICD-10 implementation.”
And, according to Dan Rode, vice president for advocacy and policy at the American Health Information Management Association, the government is setting a bad example by pulling the plug on 2013. “If they keep avoiding these due dates, then we’ve got real issues, and that’s been a history in HIPAA, having the dates pushed back,” Rode said. “For those who aren’t interested and lagging behind, they say: Well, gee, we’ll just get an extension; but for others, they’ll say: How can I develop a strategic plan if we don’t have this due date?”
Late last week the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society issued a statement calling for most healthcare entities to stay on track to implement ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2013. The organization said 90% of about 300