AMA Pushes Again for ICD-10 Delay

AHIMA Statement on ICD-10 dELAYThe American Medical Association and its regional associations are calling on Congress for another ICD-10 delay during this current lame duck session. In July, CMS issued a final rule that delayed the Octoboer 2014 transition deadline to October  1, 2015. Now, AMA wants another two year delay.  The  American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is urging Congress to stick to the current deadline, issuing a statement advocating no further delay:

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AHIMA continues to support an October 1, 2015 deadline for implementing ICD-10-CM/PCS. The industry has already seen two delays in implementation, and each delay has cost the industry billions of dollars, as well as the untold costs of lost benefits from implementing a more effective code set. Recent research published by AHIMA has shown that the estimated costs, time, and resources required by physician offices to convert to ICD-10 are lower than initially estimated. And a recent survey conducted by AHIMA and the e-Health Initiative shows that the healthcare community recognizes the long-term benefits of using ICD-10 and is making good progress in getting ready for implementation.

Another ICD-10 delay will only further deter progress and cost the industry money. There is no benefit to deferring implementation.


We reached out to AHIMA to ask them several questions on this latest twist to an ICD-10 delay. Responses are from Sue Bowman, MJ, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA and Senior Director, Coding Policy and Compliance | Public Policy & Government Relations at AHIMA.

The American Medical Association and its regional associations are pushing to add language to a fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill for HHS that would grant an additional two-year extension to ICD-10. If such a delay were to go into effect, what would be the long term impact?
An additional delay to ICD-10 implementation would be disastrous from a healthcare data perspective. There is no benefit to continuing to use an outdated coding system that is not current with today’s clinical practices. We would lose a lot of ground as an industry in moving toward better decision making based on data. Furthermore, stakeholders that have already invested significant resources in training staff and making changes to workflows and processes will find themselves at a standstill, or burning money maintaining dual coding systems. The last two delays have already generated tremendous, wasteful costs–literally billions of dollars–and we really can’t afford another.

In a recent study conducted by AHIMA, results indicate the cost for physicians to convert to ICD-10 is lower than originally estimated. Another AHIMA survey shows healthcare providers recognize the long term benefits of using ICD-10. Considering what these two survey reflect about providers’ views of making the transition, what do you see as the reasons for the disconnect between providers and associations like AMA?
Part of the reason for the “disconnect” may be the misinformation and scare tactics that have circulated in the physician community–that ICD-10 is too expensive, too difficult to learn, and too complex to implement. These mischaracterizations were repeated so often people began to believe them, so they are unreasonably scared of the transition. It’s unfortunate, because the industry has had years to prepare for this change. Remember, the final rule was published in 2009. Those who advocate for delays have already gotten two of them. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and others have created many free and low-cost resources to help providers prepare. We really can’t see that there is any excuse for not being ready.

If there is an ICD-10 delay again, what new directions will the HIM industry take in 2015?
AHIMA’s members, our partners the ICD-10 Coalition, and many other stakeholders are advocating aggressively to prevent such a delay. Since there is no benefit to another delay, our focus remains helping the industry prepare for the October 1, 2015, implementation date, when we will transition from an archaic coding system to one that gives us better data and–as a result–more effective, safer, and better patient care.