Managed care companies generally welcomed the news last month that the deadline for implementing ICD-10 codes had been pushed back by two years.
The transition must now occur by Oct. 1, 2013, according to a final regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“The final compliance dates reflect that CMS understands the complexity of these changes and the effort needed to reach compliance, both internally and externally among trading partners,” says Jim Daley, the director of risk and compliance in the information systems department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. A former HIPAA program director, Daley is a nationally recognized expert on the subject. ICD-10 will expand the coding system (currently ICD-9) from 17,000 codes to 155,000.
“We support moving to the new coding system, but we had concerns that the original implementation timeline was unrealistic and would not have allowed for a smooth transition,” says Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Charlie Baker, the chief executive officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan, says the longer transition is a good idea, “given the complexities involved.”
He expects that ICD-10 will very much be a part of the discussion as the Obama administration weighs how hard to push health care technology. “I wouldn’t expect the new administration to step back from this,” says Baker.