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CMS Cancels July ICD-10 Testing; Industry Reacts to New Deadline

Written by Kaitlyn Houseman | May 6, 2014
On Friday, CMS announced that it has canceled ICD-10 testing scheduled for late July for a small sample group of health care providers as a result of the ICD-10 compliance deadline delay,Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 5/2).

Background

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed into law legislation (HR 4302) that pushes back the ICD-10 compliance date until at least October 2015.

Last week, CMS confirmed that HHS plans to soon release an interim final rule that will set the new ICD-10 compliance deadline as Oct. 1, 2015 (iHealthBeat, 5/2).

Testing Details

Despite previously stating it would not conduct any external ICD-10 testing for providers, CMS in early February announced it would offer "end-to-end" testing for a small sample group of providers between July 21 and July 25.

However, in an updated statement, the agency said that it has "canceled" the July testing "due to the ICD-10 implementation delay." It added, "Additional opportunities for end-to-end testing will be available in 2015" (Health Data Management, 5/2).

Provider Groups Request More Testing

Meanwhile, industry reaction to CMS' statement on the ICD-10 delay has been mixed,FierceHealthIT reports.

In an email, Robert Tennant, a senior policy adviser for government affairs at the Medical Group Management Association, said that the process for implementing the ICD-10 code sets must be changed to reflect the delay.

He said, "Industry coordination between software vendors, clearinghouses and health plans has simply not occurred." He added, "The more testing that is completed and the more the results of that testing are disseminated, the better chance the industry has of a successful transition."

Meanwhile, Jeff Smith, director of federal relations for the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, said, "We're happy to see HHS commit to a hard deadline," adding, "We're happy that HHS has decided not to prolong further than what the Congressional language prohibited."

However, he noted, "The industry at large is going to have a hard time believing this 2015 deadline -- and that's for people who support ICD-10, as well as those who oppose it."

As a result, Smith said CMS should continue to "have periodic educational sessions," and "continue to conduct testing -- in particular, the end-to-end testing" -- to help to prevent industry skepticism (Bowman, Fierce Health IT, 5/2).

Year-long Delay Could Cost Hospitals

In related news, health care analysts say the delayed ICD-10 implementation deadline could have adverse effects for hospitals that already have begun transitioning to the new code sets, the Wall Street Journal's "CIO Journal" reports.

Specifically, analysts say the delay will:

  • Cost some health care providers hundreds of thousands of dollars;
  • Increase the system's complexity; and
  • Increase the risk of errors as the new coding system is eventually implemented.

For example, the delay will cost St. Luke's Health System $150,000 more in training costs to ensure the provider's 1,000 doctors are comfortable working with the new codes.

St. Luke CIO Marc Chasin said the delay "is causing significant frustration with our business stakeholders, as well as IT."

Similarly, Seattle Children's Hospital CIO Wesley Wright said he was "a little deflated" when he learned of the deadline delay, as his hospital had taken the necessary steps to meet a 2014 deadline. He has not yet calculated what the extension will mean for his physician training costs, "CIO Journal" reports (Boulton, "CIO Journal," Wall Street Journal, 5/2).