HHS Delays Adoption of ICD-10 Codes

Medical providers and insurers needed more time.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday finalized a one-year delay for compliance with diagnosis and procedures codes known as ICD-10. The new deadline is Oct. 1, 2014.

Medical providers and insurers had requested more time to implement the complex codification known as the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition. The U.S. medical community is still using ICD-9, although much of the rest of the world is deep into the transition to ICD-10.

The ICD-10 delay was announced Aug. 24 as part of a final rule for establishing a unique health plan identifier HPID required under the Affordable Care Act. HHS says the HPID will save up to $6 billion over 10 years by standardizing identifiers used by health-care providers when billing a health plan for delivery of services.

HHS previously adopted operating rules for two types of electronic health-care transactions and also for standards and operating rules for electronic funds transfers and electronic remittance advice transactions.

The American Medical Association responded to the ICD-10 delay by reiterating its position that implementation should be pushed back by at least two years, not one.

"The move toward ICD-10 comes at a time when physicians are dealing with the implementation of multiple Medicare incentive and penalty programs. Implementing ICD-10 alone requires physicians and their office staff to contend with 68,000 codes -- a five-fold increase from the current 13,000 codes,” the AMA said in a statement issued on Monday. “The implementation of ICD-10 will create more challenges for physicians when our Medicare system is broken and cannot provide adequate funding to cover the cost of these additional administrative burdens."

The American Health Information Management Association said it was “reassured” by the one-year delay.

Implementation “is inevitable, but today’s news gives the health-care community the certainty and clarity it needs to move forward with implementation, testing and training,” AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said in a statement. While some users are “still apprehensive about the implementation process,” the new code sets will improve patient care and cut costs, she said.