Health plans, in accordance with the HIPAA transaction and code set standards, use the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Ed, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) to code diagnoses and inpatient procedures. Rep. Nancy Johnson's (R-CT) health information technology bill (HR 4157) would require health plans to implement the new ICD-10 code sets by October 1, 2009. This proposal has always struck me as very aggressive. Consequently, I was very pleased to read about AHIP's recommendation -- based on a detailed IBM study -- to delay ICD-10 implementation until 2012. AHIP's President explained that while AHIP's health plan members support the eventual use of ICD-10,
"This massive effort of moving from 24,000 to 207,000 codes calls for all health care stakeholders to completely rework operations for claims processing, provider contracting, medical management, quality reporting, information technology, disease management, and other business and health care activities. Planning for an adequate implementation period will help provide a smooth transition to the new codes by allowing for pilot testing that will help minimize unintended consequences for consumers, physicians and other providers without unnecessarily increasing administrative costs."
Let's hope that common sense prevails as the Health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee begins its markup of the bill on June 8.