HHS Announces Delay In ICD-10 Compliance Date

HHS announced on February 16 that it is postponing the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and procedure codes (ICD-10).

The final rule adopting ICD-10 as a standard was published in January 2009 (Final rule, 74 FR 3328, Jan. 16, 2009) and set a compliance date of October 1, 2013 – a delay of two years from the compliance date initially specified in the 2008 proposed rule (73 FR 49795, Aug. 22, 2008). HHS did not announce a new compliance deadline.

ICD-10 codes must be used by any provider covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) — basically all health care providers in the country.

“ICD-10 codes are important to many positive improvements in our health care system,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead. 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.”

One of the most outspoken opponents of the 2013 deadline has been the American Medical Association. In November 2011 the AMA voted “to work vigorously to stop implementation of ICD-10.” AMA president Peter W. Carmel, M.D., said in November, “The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients’ care.”

On the other hand, the American Health Information Management Association expressed concern that “any delay in the transition preparation for ICD-10 will both increase actual costs and may diminish the value of other Health and Human Services (HHS) programs.”