AHIMA calls for continued advocacy to prevent ICD-10 delay

March 31, 2014

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) expressed extreme disappointment at the vote passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on a bill that included a seven-line section preventing implementation of the ICD-10 code set until at least October 1, 2015, and is encouraging the healthcare industry to take action to stop the potential ICD-10 delay.

“AHIMA is calling on its more than 72,000 members and other stakeholders to contact their Senators to urge them to remove the ICD-10 language that was quietly inserted into a bill focused on the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) for physicians,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives chose to embed language about ICD-10 into the proposed SGR fix in their effort to temporarily address the long outstanding and critically important physician payment issues.”

The Senate has scheduled the vote for Monday, March 31, 2014.

AHIMA has steadfastly championed the benefits of the transition to ICD-10. The transition is particularly time-sensitive because of the urgent need to track, identify and analyze the new clinical services and treatments available to patients. ICD-9-CM, which is outdated and imprecise, adversely affects the value of healthcare data and ultimately adversely compromises the quality of patient care.

World Health Organization (WHO) member states have been using ICD-10 since 1994. The United States remains one of the few developed countries that has not made the transition to ICD-10 or a clinical modification.

“The healthcare industry has had an abundance of time to prepare for the ICD-10 transition,” Thomas Gordon said. “Many hospitals, healthcare systems, third-party payers and physicians’ offices have prepared – in good faith – and made critical investments to be ready by the implementation deadline.”

It has been estimated that a one-year delay of ICD-10 could cost between $1 billion to $6.6 billion.

In addition to the resources and time that healthcare professionals have put in to prepare, more than 25,000 students in Health Information Management (HIM) associate and baccalaureate educational programs will be affected by the delay. Many of these students have been trained exclusively in ICD-10.

“As the demand for quality healthcare data increases, a delay in ICD-10 implementation will cause the healthcare system to face additional struggles to fill these important HIM positions,” Thomas Gordon said.

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