It's just one sentence in a 123-page bill passed last week by the House to temporarily patch Medicare physician payment.
But depending on who you listen to, it could either save the healthcare world from a huge financial debacle, or seriously set back efforts to advance quality of care and accuracy of payment, and waste hundreds of millions of dollars providers already have invested in training and systems retooling.
That provision would push back by at least one year the federally mandated, already twice-delayed conversion to the complex ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural coding system slated to begin Oct. 1. It reads: “The Secretary of Health and Human Services may not, prior to Oct. 1, 2015, adopt ICD-10 code sets as the standard for codes sets.”
The measure was unexpected, slipped into legislation to provide a one-year patch for Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula. The Senate is expected to vote Monday on the bill, which would avert a possible 24% cut to physician payments taking effect April 1. It's likely to include the ICD-10 delay.