Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The delay of ICD-10

The delay of ICD-10

the-delay-of-icd-10- image0As those of you who have been in health care for a while know, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the central international tool for coding and classifying diagnoses and diseases. ICD is maintained by the World Health Organization. In the United States, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) use the ICD-9 coding system for clinical and procedural classifications and payment.

For several years, CMS has been meeting with representatives of industry, hospitals and physician organizations, conducting surveys and analyses in preparation for the transition from the old to the new system of ICD-10. (This is not only for Medicare and Medicaid but for all health plans and providers governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.) This is a big deal with enormous consequences.

CMS had set forth a firm Oct. 1 deadline for the ICD-10 implementation. They were sensitive to criticism from past delays. However, in the last few days, both the House and Senate have voted to delay the implementation of ICD-10 for another year. This is still subject to President Obama’s approval — so it is not decided yet — but the people who study these matters believe he will sign it. It appears, at the time I am writing this, that ICD-10 will be delayed.

I jokingly told our dean I do not know whether to laugh or to cry about the delay of ICD-10. Certainly, the delay will be helpful in some ways; but, Texas Tech Physicians, along with the rest of the nation, has spent a lot of money (and effort) on trying to prepare for ICD-10 and I have never been a big fan of procrastination. I fully understand that the ICD-10 issue is divisive within the health care industry. Indeed, we have been worried that, with about 64,000 specific ICD-10 codes, we will have a much harder time recording the right data to get our claims paid by CMS and by insurers. We were doing our best to be ready. Starts and stops are generally not good for anybody and certainly not for planning purposes. But, we must be flexible on these matters outside our control.