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HHS finalizes ICD-10 compliance deadline

The federal government gives the go-ahead for the expected date - Oct. 1, 2015

Mike Miliard, Editor, Healthcare IT News

A new ICD-10 compliance date has been finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency announced today that providers, payers and clearinghouses must transition to the classification system by Oct. 1, 2015.

Four months ago, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of – and President Barack Obama soon signed – the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. Primarily meant to forestall cuts in Medicare payment rates for physicians, the bill also contained a little-debated component, of mysterious provenance, that called for delaying ICD-10 implementation until 2015 at the earliest.

For an industry that had been working near-feverishly to prepare for a deadline of Oct. 1, 2014, this development came as something of a surprise, throwing the plans of countless healthcare organizations back into flux as the certainty of an approaching deadline vanished.

On May 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services put out a statement indicating that the switchover deadline would be extended a year, and noted that HHS "expects to release an interim final rule in the near future that will include a new compliance date that would require the use of ICD-10 beginning Oct. 1, 2015."

Well, here we are. The hope, of course, is that all these extra months will allow the industry, especially physician practices, "ample time to prepare for change," CMS noted, helping them implement and test the necessary systems and processes to ensure a smooth transition next fall.

"ICD-10 codes will provide better support for patient care, and improve disease management, quality measurement and analytics," said Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a press statement announcing the finalization. "For patients under the care of multiple providers, ICD-10 can help promote care coordination."

The American Health Information Management Association lauded the final rule.

"Now, everyone in the healthcare community has the necessary certainty to move forward with their implementation processes, including testing and training," said AHIMA officials in a press statement.

This story is based on a report appearing on Healthcare IT News.

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