With the looming ICD-10 deadline on October 1st, many providers are concerned that another delay could be in the works. Implementation of the new coding system has already been postponed twice, initially set for October 2013, then pushed to 2014, and now 2015.
Last week, Texas Congressman Ted Poe presented H.R. 2126, the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015, to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means. The Congress.gov website states the intention of the bill is “to prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from replacing ICD-9 with ICD-10 in implementing the HIPAA code set standards.”
A previous version of the Cutting Costly Codes Act introduced in 2013 did not receive much support and was unable to advance. It is speculated that the 2015 bill will face a similar fate considering that ICD-10 has many supporters, including the Committee on Ways and Means. In a February hearing held by the Committee on Energy and Commerce, many members expressed support for the new codes as well. Currently, H.R. 2126 has six sponsors: Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Rep. David Roe (R-TN). If the bill is to make it to the House for a vote, it still has a long way to go.
In a press release, Rep. Poe said, “The new ICD-10 codes will not make one patient healthier. What it will do is put an unnecessary strain on the medical community who should be focused on treating patients, not implementing a whole new bureaucratic language…Big government must get out of the way and let doctors do what they were trained to do – help people.”
While there is some truth to Poe’s statement, he is overlooking the fact that the new codes are meant to improve diagnostic classifications, which in turn will improve patient treatment. ICD-9 has 13,000 codes, whereas ICD-10 will include 68,000, and, while this will be an massive adjustment for providers, it will pay off in the long run. According to Medicaid.gov, the codes enable greater specificity and allow more information to be conveyed. The website also states that ICD-9 was not designed for the advancement of medicine over the last 25 years. The bottom line is that ICD-10 is crucial, not only for maintaining these developments, but also for paving the way to further progress.
Author: Apoorva Anupindi