Coalition for ICD-10 to HHS: Name the new deadline

An industry advocacy group on Tuesday called on Health and Human Services to not push ICD-10 back any further than next year.

“We urge that HHS announce October 1, 2015 as the new implementation date for ICD-10 as soon as possible,” the Coalition for ICD-10 wrote in a letter to CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “The delay is going to be disruptive and costly for health care delivery innovation, payment reform, public health, and health care spending, and uncertainty on the implementation date only adds to the disruption and cost.”

CMS itself estimated that the previous delay, from Oct. 1, 2013 to the same day in 2014, would cost the industry at least $1 billion and perhaps as much as $6.6 billion.

The coalition also pointed out that this third delay of ICD-10 “has caused great uncertainty” in the industry.

Indeed, the manner in which Congress and President Barack Obama essentially pushed ICD-10 back within a law focusing on the Sustainable Growth Rate and never even mentioning the now-infamous Section 212, the provision prohibiting HHS from requiring ICD-10 prior to Oct. 1, 2015, has plenty of people in the industry wondering if ICD-10 will be forever legislatively tied to SGR, a decade-old problem that Congress, rather than actually solving, has kicked down the road 17 times — and if ICD-10’s fate ends up in that quagmire the industry may never get to the new code set.

There is simply no way to tell whether that will happen at this point. And until either HHS or CMS nails down a new compliance deadline, the timing also remains an open question, thereby making it harder for medical practices to understand how best to proceed.

Two surveys conducted since this latest delay indicate that an overwhelming percentage of respondents actually want to comply by Oct. 1, 2015; a Deloitte survey of 1,250 webinar attendees found that 79 percent prefer to make the ICD-10 move by then, while research done by Medical Practice Insider owner Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society determined that of the 643 people contacted, 67 percent want the same timing.

Deloitte’s survey even found that 30 percent of respondents want to “find a way to restore the 2014 deadline.”

That would likely require a lawsuit and with fewer than 6 months until the deadline that appears to be something of a longshot — though so did delaying ICD-10 this third time before it happened.

The Coalition for ICD-10 bills itself as an advocacy group consisting of several industry associations including the American Health Information Management Association, American Hospital Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, BlueCross BlueShield Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, among others, as well as vendors 3M Health Information Systems, Roche Diagnostics Corporation, Siemens Health Services and WellPoint.