The American Hospital Association, the American Health Information Management Association and the Advanced Medical Technology Association have jointly sent letters to all members of Congress saying that the organizations strongly support an HHS proposal to upgrade diagnosis and inpatient-procedure coding systems from the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, or ICD-9, to ICD-10.
On Aug. 15, HHS announced its intention to amend electronic healthcare data transaction standards requirements promulgated under the authority of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and switch the nation from ICD-9 to ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2011. HHS officially published its proposed rule Aug. 22. An HHS spokesman said the governments goal is to publish the final rule by the end of the year.
The staging and timeline of the conversion as well as its multibillion dollar cost have raised controversy, with requests for delay being sent to HHS from a coalition of healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association, a number of medical specialty societies, the Medical Group Management Association and trade groups for health plans and laboratories.
Specific references to the 2011 deadline were absent from the letters, dated Oct. 28, and sent to both senators and members of the House, but the letters did say, The time for moving forward is long overdue.
The letters to Congress were signed by Rick Pollack, an executive vice president of the AHA; Dan Rode, vice president of policy and government relations at the AHIMA; and Stephen Ubl, president and chief executive officer of AdvaMed.
The letters said: At a time when both Congress and HHS are looking to make significant changes in the way healthcare is delivered and paid for, to begin to measure quality more accurately and to adjust payments to providers based on those measurements, it is critical that those judgments be based on the most accurate information available. The current coding system simply cannot capture the detailin either diagnosis or treatmentthat is necessary to make these pay-for-performance programs work as conceived."
The letters also said: We are aware that there are groups urging HHS to put off implementation of ICD-10, thus slowing down progress toward a more modern coding system and all the benefits to payment, public health reporting, research and quality measurement that it represents. We urge you to resist any such efforts to delay this important regulation.