A bill that would allow providers to submit claims using either ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes after the October 1, 2015 ICD-10 transition date was introduced into the US House of Representatives on Friday.
The bill, H.R. 3018, Coding Flexibility in Healthcare Act of 2015 (Code-FLEX), would create a “safe harbor period” for the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 by allowing dual coding for six months after the ICD-10 transition deadline, according to an article in ICD-10 Monitor. The bill was introduced by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Tom E. Price (R-NC).
Payers would be required to accept claims submitted in either code set until April 1, 2016. A supporter of the bill, Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor with the Medical Group Management Association, told ICD-10 Monitor that this is “not a delay” since it would “permit those providers who are ready to start submitting [ICD-] 10 codes on October 1 to do so.”
AHIMA: Dual Coding ‘Not Practical or Feasible’
AHIMA officials have come out against dual coding, saying the practice is not practical or feasible.
“A dual coding system is not a simple solution, but is fraught with difficulties that have the potential to undermine the data infrastructure of the healthcare industry,” states an AHIMA FAQ on ICD-10. “It will confuse claims processing and negatively impact the handling of important patient clinical information and may affect patient care.
“It would require extremely complex and costly changes to major payment, clearinghouse, and provider systems. The communication of health information between providers would be compromised, adversely impacting the quality of patient care and increasing the potential for patient harm.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stated in the past that they and many commercial health plans are unable to process claims for both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes submitted for the same dates of service, the AHIMA FAQ states.
“For more effective, safer, and better patient care, we must move forward with the use of ICD-10 codes on October 1, 2015,”said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon.
Yet Another ICD-10 Bill
H.R. 3018 is the latest in a slew of ICD-10 related bills and announcements that have hit the industry over the past few weeks. On Monday, the American Medical Association (AMA) and CMS announced new guidance to help ease providers into the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 by creating a 12-month grace period on inaccurate ICD-10 code use.
On June 26, the Senate Appropriations Committee opted not to adopt amendments aimed at slowing down full implementation of ICD-10-CM/PCS in a markup session of an appropriations bill.
And on June 4, a bill was introduced into the US House that proposed a two-year “grace period” for accepting codes submitted in ICD-10-CM/PCS. The bill, H.R. 2652, Protecting Patients and Physicians Against Coding Act of 2015, was introduced by Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL-6).
That legislation was the third ICD-10-related bill to be introduced into the House of Representatives since April. On May 12, H.R. 2247, the Increasing Clarity for Doctors by Transitioning Effectively Now Act (ICD-TEN Act) was introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-6) calling for an ICD-10 transition period. On April 30, H.R. 2126, the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX-2) seeking to outright stop the replacement of ICD-9 with ICD-10.