HHS Announces ICD-10 Delay


WASHINGTON -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a 1-year delay in its deadline for implementing the new ICD-10 diagnosis coding system.

In a fact sheet announcing a proposed rule that sets a deadline of Oct. 1, 2014 to comply with the ICD-10 system, HHS noted that "some provider groups have expressed serious concerns about their ability to meet the October 1, 2013 compliance date."

Their concerns were partly based on difficulties with implementing a new standardized health claims form, known as Version 5010, for electronic health transactions. Providers need to implement Version 5010 before they can start using ICD-10.

"HHS believes the change in the compliance date for ICD-10, as proposed in this rule, would give providers and other covered entities more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition among all industry segments," the agency said.

Acting Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner suggested the possibility of a delay in implementing the ICD-10 system -- which includes three times the number of diagnoses in the current ICD-9 -- during a speech at an American Medical Association advocacy meeting in February.

Although the possibility of a delay made many physicians happy, it did not please health information technology firms that have been working to meet the 2013 deadline.

"I haven't talked to anyone who isn't extremely disappointed," Susan Heichert, RN, chief information officer at Allina Hospital and Clinics in St. Paul, Minn., said during a press briefing at the February meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

"We tend to gear up and we have a lot of moving pieces in place," she said. "It's costly to stop a train from moving forward. No matter what that deadline is, if it's two years out or 10 years out, it's going to be too hard to get it geared up again."

In the proposed rule, HHS noted that it considered several alternatives regarding the switch to ICD-10, including skipping ICD-10 altogether and just waiting for ICD-11.

"This option was eliminated from consideration because the World Health Organization, which creates the basic version of the medical code set from which all countries create their own specialized versions, is not expected to release the basic ICD-11 medical code set until 2015 at the earliest," the agency noted. "From the time of that release, subject matter experts state that the transition from ICD-9 directly to ICD-11 would be more difficult for industry and it would take anywhere from 5 to 7 years for the United States to develop its own [ICD-11 version]."

HHS will be accepting comments on the proposed rule for 30 days.