Well its confirmed, ICD-10 is now delayed until October 2015 as Obama passed into law the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) "doc fix" temporary legislation.
For many practices unprepared for ICD-10 this is a welcome break. For new coders and medical professionals who have only been trained in ICD-10 this is a huge blow and we have yet to see what the full repercussions will be.
There is some speculation online that with this delay may come other delays, and that we might just hold out until 2018 and transition straight to ICD-11! Unlikely, but clearly anything is possible.
For now all we can do is watch, wait and prepare
In a move surprising even the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Senate approved a bill on March 31st that would delay ICD-10 implementation until October 1, 2015 pushing back the current transition deadline by an entire year.
Bill HR 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Bill of 2014 mainly creates a temporary fix to the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, section of the bill which deals with reimbursement for Medicare physicians. Without a fix of some sort, Medicare physicians are facing an immediate 24% reimbursement rate cut. The revised bill controls this down to 0.5% initially and eases into transition.
Apparently on Monday Senator Ron Wyden (go Oregon!) proposed SGR Bill S 2157 that similarly corrected the SGR calculation problem but did not include the ICD-10 delay and also included wider reform for ICD-10 implementation, but this bill was opposed by yet another from Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions and ultimately did not move ahead.
For a more complete report, see this excellent article from the Journal of the AHIMA.
ICD-10 Final Ruling Unknown
The bill is now headed to the President who is expected to sign it into law, but until that happens all we can do is wait. Beyond all the physicians, hospitals, clinics and private practices who have been preparing in good faith, most affected are the newly graduated medical coding professionals who have been trained ONLY in ICD-10 and now face education that could be frankly worthless for a whole additional year. Hopefully, some provisions for suitable employment will be made for them, and if nothing else there may be a flood in the market of coding professionals ready and willing to help those who are less prepared get ready for the (inevitable if delayed) transition.
Rebecca MH Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist working in Portland, Oregon and La Center, WA. Dedicated to her practice, her family and the entrepreneurial small business spirit, Rebecca wrote Insurance Billing Made Easy in 2010 as an attempt to help other practitioners learn concisely what she had to figure out by trial and error - that a little know how + a willingness to jump in and try go a long way to making billing insurance a breeze. Rebecca currently runs a solopreneur practice and completes her insurance billing in 20 minutes a week. She's here to show YOU how to do it too!
Copyright Rebecca MH Kitzerow, LAc, All Ways Well, LLC 2018