Jun 8, 2015

AMA Calls for Two-Year ICD-10 Grace Period If It Can’t Stop the Train

(CHICAGO) – Following up on yesterday’s story (ICD-10: Stop This Freight Train ... Or At Least Install Seat Belts!), we can report that the American Medical Association House of Delegates today unanimously adopted the Texas-backed proposal to ask the federal government to adopt a two-year, penalty-free grace period following the expected Oct. 1 mandatory implementation of the new ICD-10 coding system.

As the Reference Committee on Legislation noted in its report, “Our AMA will continue to prioritize our existing AMA policy that first seeks to stop the implementation of the ICD-10 code set and, only if a delay is not feasible, seek mitigation strategies.”

The delegates voted without objection in support of the grace period plan, which the reference committee cobbled together based on suggestions from the Alabama and Texas delegations as well as other states. The adopted language reads:

If a delay of ICD-10 implementation is not feasible, that our American Medical Association ask the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other payers to allow a two-year grace period for ICD-10 transition, during which physicians will not be penalized for errors, mistakes, and/or malfunctions of the system. Physician payments will also not be withheld based on ICD-10 coding mistakes, providing for a true transition where physicians and their offices can work with ICD-10 over a period of time and not be penalized.

That our AMA educate physicians of their contractual obligations under Medicare and insurance company contracts should they decide to not implement ICD-10 and opt to transition to cash-only practices which do not accept insurance.

That our AMA aggressively promote this new implementation compromise to Congress and CMS since it will allow implementation of ICD-10 as planned, and at the same time protect patients’ access to care and physicians’ practices.

That our AMA provide the needed resources to accomplish this new compromise ICD-10 implementation and make it a priority.

That our AMA seek data on how ICD-10 implementation has affected patients and changed physician practice patterns, such as physician retirement, leaving private practice for academic settings, and moving to all-cash practices and that, if appropriate, our AMA release this information to the public.

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