New bill may interfere with ICD-10 implementation deadline

Health care experts across the country have been anxiously waiting to see if the Oct. 1, 2015, ICD-10 implementation deadline will be postponed as it has in the past. Some providers and organizations are hoping for another delay, as preparing an office or facility for the new set of codes is a task that has proven to be both incredibly daunting and time-consuming. Others who have worked hard to prepare their staff for the coming deadline feel that another postponement would cause major problems for their practices.

New legislation may put ICD-10 deadline at risk
The H.R. 2126, a new bill introduced by Representative Ted Poe, R-Tex., may put the current ICD-10 deadline at risk. The new legislation prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from forcing the health care sector to switch from the ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 codes. 

The new bill has caused many providers to panic and hope that nothing comes of the legislation, as another delay would be a major setback for their practices. However, according to the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, the bill, introduced on April 30 to the House of Representatives, has already been moved to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means for comment.

Six additional representatives co-sponsored the bill, including Rep. Morgan H. Griffith, R-Vir., Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Tex., Rep. Tom Price, R-Geo., Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., Rep. David P. Roe, R-Ten., and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. 

Despite Poe's new bill, major organizations, such as the AHIMA, are actively working toward avoiding additional delays to ICD-10 implementation. The Coalition for ICD-10 has asked ICD-10 proponents to continue ensuring that the Oct. 1 deadline stays in place. 

Rep. Poe continues to fight for end to ICD-10 codes
Poe has been against the new coding system and has worked to delay the ICD-10 deadline since the codes were introduced several years ago. He has spoken about his disapproval for the new coding system and its diagnostic codes. In fact, in 2013 Poe introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that also aimed at ensuring that the ICD-10 codes were not implemented by physicians. Referred to as H.R. 1701, the legislation prohibited the Secretary of Health and Human Services from adopting the new diagnostic coding across the nation. 

However, the bill was never acknowledged or seriously considered by the House committees. Officials believed that Poe's idea that the government is trying to interfere with the success of the health care industry through the implementation of the ICD-10 codes would only hurt the industry. Similar to Poe's new bill, this legislation was introduced to the Committee of Energy and Commerce and would have prevented the implementation of the ICD-10 codes.

At a House committee meeting two years ago, Poe expressed how forcing physicians to switch to the new coding system is an example of how the federal government intrudes on the lives of patients and health care providers.

"It's red tape, it's bureaucracy, and this is what happens when clueless big government here in Washington starts telling people out in the workplace, doctors and patients, what they must do and when government intrudes into our lives with more regulations," Poe said at the House meeting. "There is a code for being assaulted by a turkey for the first time, there is a code for being assaulted by the turkey a second time – the doctor must get it right because he's in violation of federal regulators if he doesn't get it right."

Health professionals who want to support the efforts of organizations like the AHIMA to go forward with the ICD-10 transition can contact their state representatives and senators to prevent any further delays.