Citing Physician ‘Concerns,’ HHS Delays ICD-10 Transition

February 16, 2012

The federal government has delayed an Oct. 1, 2013 transition to ICD-10 codes for healthcare providers.

What started out as a possibility earlier this week has become reality as the federal government has now delayed the compliance date for ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes.

In a statement released today (Feb. 16), HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that her agency will initiate a process to postpone the original Oct. 1, 2013 date and announce a new compliance date in the future.

Earlier this week, CMS’ acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the federal government was going to “re-examine” the 2013 implementation date sparking hope that officials in Washington, D.C., would heed calls to stop the transition from becoming reality next year.

Sebelius called ICD-10 “important” to improvements in the healthcare system in her statement, but also noted feedback from stakeholders concerned that they would not be prepared next fall to make the switch from ICD-9. The original notice of the transition was announced in January 2009, but two years later, it appeared few in the healthcare system were ready to make the move.

“We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead,” she said. “We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our health care system.”

The delay was immediately met with applause by the American Medical Association, which has recently campaigned the federal government to stop the coding transition. In a statement, AMA President Peter W. Carmel said the group “appreciates” Sebelius’ “swift response” to physician concerns.

“The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources implementing electronic health records in their practices and trying to comply with multiple quality and health information technology programs that include penalties for noncompliance,” he said. “Burdens on physician practices need to be reduced - not created - as the nation's healthcare system undertakes significant payment and delivery reforms.”