The Mourning After: Assessing the Fallout From the ICD-10 Delay

In the wake of last month’s abrupt and unexpected ICD-10 delay, powerful healthcare groups remain at odds over what happened -- and what comes next.

The American Medical Association (AMA), ostensibly the voice of the physician, opposes the ICD-10 mandate in its entirety.  Doctors see significant costs and practice burdens associated with the coding update and “no direct benefit to individual patients’ care,” according to Peter W. Carmel, MD, AMA president.

Other industry groups, including the American Hospital Association (AHA), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) support ICD-10 and opposed delay of the October 2014 go-live date.

The AHA opposed the delay as a momentum killer that would undo a lot of hard work and investment by the nation’s hospitals to get ready for the October 2014 deadline. The AHIMA went a step further, calling continued use of ICD-9 a public health risk because it relies on outdated and imprecise data.

Despite opposition to the delay (and to the unusual way it became attached to other legislation), it passed. The AMA won. Sort of.

While Congress and the President have pushed off this year’s implementation deadline, the mandated conversion still simmers as a likelihood in 2015. In this climate of uncertainty, all parties are looking to CMS for more clarity around a new implementation deadline and next steps.

For now, a wide chasm remains between MDs and others in healthcare delivery about the benefits of ICD-10 versus the cost. But the ICD-10 delay may have an unintended benefit. It creates more time for all parties to bridge the gap between them, explore concerns and chart a way forward.