ICD-10 implementation deadline receives support

The implementation of ICD-10 has been pushed back multiple times over the years, with a current deadline set for Oct. 1, 2015. There has been much debate between health care organizations as to whether physicians are ready for the new codes, with some experts believing this date should be postponed even further. However, recent reports have shown that the Oct. 1 deadline is supported by many of the health care industry's most important organizations and committees.

It was announced recently that the House Energy & Commerce and Rules committees – major committees within Congress – voiced their backing of the ICD-10 deadline, increasing the likelihood that doctors and hospitals will have to buckle down and learn the new codes by October of next year. 

October deadline receives support
The committees announced their support in a joint statement on Dec. 10

"As we look ahead to the implementation date of ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2015, we will continue our close communication with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that the deadline can successfully be met by stakeholders," said Representatives Fred Upton and Pete Session.

The statement is significant because it comes not long after provider associations, such as the Medical Society of the State of New York, called for a two-year delay in a 2015 Congressional $1 trillion spending bill that members of the Senate and House of Representatives decided against implementing.

According to Modern Healthcare, most committees see no benefit in waiting another year or two to implement the new coding compliance, especially when looking at the results of the recent postponements. In the House Energy & Commerce and Rules committees' joint statement, experts emphasized that the release of the ICD-10 codings is a milestone that will greatly impact the future of health care IT and that past delays have made numerous parties worried about falling behind or ruining the progress they have made.

If organizations do not continue to move forward in health care technology, the concerns of the organizations and individuals affected will never be eased. Continuously postponing the potential progress of health care IT will eventually prevent the system from working effectively.

Clashing sides create problems
The implementation of ICD-10 may be tricky with groups like the American Medical Association pushing adamantly against it, continuously requesting the two-year delay. The AMA and similar groups are clashing with the likes of the American Hospital Association, the American Health Information Management Association and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. These organizations are members of the Coalition for ICD-10.

On Nov.12, the coalition wrote a letter to Congress asking for an end to the ICD-10 delays. They listed detailed explanations of the significant disruptions to health care organizations and the industry overall after the previous postponements, according to EHR Intelligence. These disruptions have been costly and have made it difficult for organizations to progress. 

The Medical Society of the State of New York retaliated later that month with a letter to Congress that called out specific members of the House Energy & Commerce and Rules committees to back and include the two-year ICD-10 delay as part of "must pass piece of legislation during the upcoming Lame Duck Session in 2014," according to the news source. 

The opposing sides continued to push for their goals, as eight health care systems and hospital associations came together to pen a letter to Senate and House leadership requesting that any ICD-10 delays be ignored, noting the "billions of dollars in extra costs" that were caused by earlier delays.

Although it seems like the ICD-10 battle could end up going either way, the House Energy & Commerce and Rules committees' announcement makes it look more likely that the deadlines will not be altered – at least for now.