Hospitals are ready for the ICD-10 coding system, the AHA said in a Feb. 11 statement to the House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee. Delaying its implementation beyond the planned Oct. 1 date “will only add additional costs as existing investments will be further wasted and future costs will grow,” the AHA said.

The AHA submitted its statement at a subcommittee hearing on ICD-10 implementation. In its statement, the AHA noted that 93% of hospitals surveyed this year were moderately to very confident they could meet the deadline.

“Hospitals are actively preparing their information systems, affiliated physicians and coders to make the transition possible,” the AHA said.

 “We need to end the uncertainty and move forward at this time,” said subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts, R-Pa. “No more delays in the transition to ICD-10,” added Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

The Department of Health and Human Services in 2009 released a rule calling for adoption of ICD-10 to update the nation’s 35-year-old clinical coding system. Providers now use ICD-9 code sets. ICD-9 can accommodate about 17,000 codes, while ICD-10 has space for more than 155,000 codes.

The deadline for updating to ICD-10 has been delayed several times since 2011, including a one-year delay by Congress last year that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates cost health plans, Medicare, Medicaid, hospitals and large providers between $1.2 billion and $6.9 billion.

“ICD-10 is needed now to keep up with advances in medicine and ensure accurate payment,” the AHA stated. “Uncertainty over the possibility of any additional delay casts a long shadow over current preparations. We urge Congress to stop any proposal to further delay this needed coding update.”

All but one of the hearing witnesses opposed any further delay, including representatives from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), America’s Health Insurance Plans, Athena Health, 3M Health Information Systems, Yale School of Medicine, and a rural Missouri medical practice.

Sue Bowman, AHIMA’s senior director of coding policy and compliance, testified that implementation of ICD-10 is long overdue, and that repeated delays “have been disruptive and costly for health care delivery innovation, payment reform, public health and health care spending.”

She said a changing health care environment demands implementation in October. “The enormous investment that is being made in accountable care organizations, meaningful use of electronic health records and value-based purchasing are all predicated on having a more precise and comprehensive diagnosis and procedure coding system that is up-to-date with the rapid changes in practices and technologies utilized in today’s health care system,” she told the subcommittee.


GAO reports on ICD- 10 preparations. In other ICD-10 news, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Feb. 6 on actions taken by CMS to support the Oct. 1 transition to the ICD-10 coding system for health care claims. The findings are based on information collected from CMS and a sample of 28 stakeholder organizations, including the AHA, between July 2014 and January 2015.

Among recent activities, the agency has scheduled end-to-end testing with 2,550 covered entities during three weeks in 2015, and plans this summer to issue an updated version of the Medicare-Severity Diagnosis-Related Groups to reflect the final inpatient prospective payment system rule for fiscal year 2016, the report notes.

For more on the report, click here.

For more on hospitals’ preparations for ICD-10, go to the AHA’s ICD-10 factsheet

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