Physician Groups Push for Two-Year ICD-10 Delay on Capitol Hill

Updated on Friday, December 5.

A select group of physicians and physician groups have begun advocating for an additional two-year delay to the implementation of ICD-10-CM/PCS. In response, AHIMA and the Coalition for ICD-10 have launched its own advocacy efforts to keep the ICD-10 implementation date at October 1, 2015.

Last week a letter was circulated to members of Congress—addressed to Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner (R-OH)—requesting the implementation date be pushed back to 2017.

Additionally, the Texas branch of the American Medical Association (TMA) is advocating for the same two-year delay through its Legislative Action Center.

Calls for Delay Could Get Traction

There are two legislative avenues by which advocates for an ICD-10 delay could get Congress to consider inserting delay language—similar to how the most recent delay was inserted into legislation.

Members of the current “lame duck” Congress are under pressure to pass a continuing resolution on a $157 billion Departments of Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending bill that expires on December 11. AHIMA’s advocacy team has said it is concerned that Congress could be persuaded to add an amendment to this bill that would delay ICD-10.

The second path for delay advocates is through a sustainable growth rate (SGR) patch. Typically the SGR patch dictates the formula that determines how physicians are reimbursed by Medicare. However, a last minute amendment to the SGR patch in March 2014 was all it took to delay implementation of ICD-10 one year to October 2015. Senate leaders confirmed, however, that they will not move forward with legislation to settle the SGR patch in the lame duck session. The new Congress could still act on the issue in the spring.

Texas’ Role in Delay Request

The advocacy efforts by TMA are being monitored closely by ICD-10 advocates because of activities against ICD-10 that members of the Texas Congressional delegation have taken in the past.

The “Cutting Costly Codes Act” was introduced by US Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) in April 2013. That bill asked the US Department of Health and Human Services not to “implement, administer, or enforce” ICD-10-CM/PCS as a replacement for ICD-9-CM.

Coalition Ramps Up Advocacy Efforts

In response to the letter being circulated and TMA’s recent advocacy efforts, the Coalition for ICD-10—a multifaceted group of healthcare associations, insurers, and vendors, is urging its members and other supporters of ICD-10 to contact their members of Congress via phone calls and e-mails to support the October 1, 2015 compliance date.

AHIMA’s own advocacy efforts will include phone calls to its members from AHIMA President and Board Chair Angela Kennedy, EdD, MBA, RHIA; special e-Alerts on advocacy efforts; as well as social media and grassroots activities. AHIMA members have been encouraged to Tweet members of Congress with the hashtag #ICD10Matters and to use AHIMA’s online Advocacy Assistant to locate their representatives and senators.

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