Key advances in IT
ICD-10 implementation riles physicians group
HHS unclogged a backlog of key information technology regulations late last week, including a rule that sets the ICD-10 implementation date for Oct. 1, 2014—to the consternation of a major physician’s group, the MGMA.
HHS also issued a final rule laying out the requirements that providers must meet to receive funding under Stage 2 of the federal electronic health-record incentive program (See story, p. 12).
The rule concerning the implementation of ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes concurrently finalized details on the implementation of a unique health plan identification number intended to streamline billing. While the MGMA roundly criticized both aspects of the rule, other industry groups welcomed the CMS’ regulations. Statements largely in support of the ICD-10 rule were issued by the American Hospital Association, the American Health Information Management Association, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.
The MGMA’s opposition to the ICD-10 implementation, even though the date is one year later than planned, stems from the association’s belief that the CMS and the industry don’t know what they’re getting into and should prepare for the transition. Before setting a compliance date, the CMS should have conducted a pilot test, conducted an impact analysis and fully evaluated alternative approaches, said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser at the MGMA. “To move forward without doing a pilot test to us is irresponsible,” Tennant said. “I don’t think we’re asking for the moon here; we’re asking for due diligence on the part of the government.”
“Inevitably, we’ll have problems around the compliance date and there’ll be cash flow dis- ruption and people will be upset,” Tennant said. He compared it to the rocky transition to the Accredited Standards Committee’s X12 Version 5010 family of claims standards but said ICD-10 disruptions will be on a larger scale. The MGMA opposed the health plan identifier regulations because implementation will be too far in the future—2016—and they’re not specific enough to benefit physicians, Tennant said
The CMS addressed the readiness issue in the rule, writing that the agency agrees “that implementation and testing plans are essential for a successful transition to ICD-10.” “We are evaluating methods to establish a common understanding and will issue guidance and offer general assistance on timelines and testing protocols through education and outreach.”
AHIMA officials are on the opposite side of the spectrum of the MGMA, and while they had urged the CMS to not delay implementation by a year, they support the rule because it provides certainty to the industry. Without a deadline, it’s possible that some organizations were not preparing as quickly as they should, said Sue Bowman, senior director for coding policy and compliance at AHIMA.
“I think it’s a great day for healthcare and a great step forward in the … modernization of our healthcare system,” Bowman said.