A Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association report concluded that the healthcare industry would have to absorb up to $14 billion in implementation costs to move to a proposed new coding system called ICD-10-CM. The report estimated that total spending over a two- to three-year period could exceed the expense of the Y2K conversion and would cause a large-scale disruption. The report comes at the same time as a recommendation in favor of the coding shift by a subcommittee of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, an advisory body to HHS. The recommendation goes to the full committee for vote next week. If accepted, the committee would advise HHS to begin the rulemaking process for adoption of the ICD-10 update, which would replace a coding system in use for more than 20 years called ICD-9-CM. The system, which assigns codes to medical observations and treatments, affects every aspect of the healthcare business and forms the building blocks of Medicare's DRG payment system. The Blues association said in a written statement that the benefits of the coding switch were uncertain and unproven and called for a "stakeholder commission" to develop a national plan for standards. At deadline, the report had not been posted on the Blues association's Web site. -- by John Morrissey
Switch to ICD-10 would cost billions: report
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