An HHS advisory board has recommended a sweeping change to the classification system for medical observations and codes. A letter of recommendation from the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics calls for HHS to initiate the rulemaking process for replacing the current coding system, called ICD-9-CM, with two successor systems: ICD-10-CM for diagnoses and ICD-10-PCS for classifying medical procedures. The action came over the opposition of payers such as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which argued in a report last month that the healthcare industry would have to absorb as much as $14 billion in implementation costs over a two- to three-year period to move to the new coding system. HHS still must accept the recommendation and the proposal must survive the rulemaking process. Still, to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), which lobbied for more than a year for the committee's blessing, "this is truly a milestone to celebrate," said Linda Kloss, AHIMA executive vice president and CEO. The coding system underpins healthcare billing, much of the industry's quality-improvement research and the Medicare DRG reimbursement system. -- by John Morrissey
Advisory board urges switch to ICD-10 coding
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