Even though we have under four months until the October 1, 2015, deadline to transition to ICD-10, the American Medical Association (AMA)—which has long opposed the switch—is still doing its best to put the kibosh on our nation’s transition to the nearly-outdated coding set almost everyone else has already adopted. But instead of shouting from a soapbox, the AMA is now scrambling for safe harbor.
Despite having years to prepare for ICD-10, the AMA claims that “ICD-10 will significantly overwhelm physician practices with a 400 percent increase in the number of codes physicians must use for diagnosis.” Therefore, the association believes clinics need more time to learn how to properly bill using the new code set. According to the AMA Wire, at this year’s Annual AMA Meeting, the organization passed a new policy, which asks the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to not “withhold claim payments based on coding errors, mistakes or malfunctions in the system” for two years after implementation—a move the AMA believes will help prevent disruptions in cash flow.
While maintaining cash flow during the transition is a good thing, it’s only a temporary solution to a long-term problem. It’s too soon to tell if CMS will agree to the AMA’s request, but even if it does, giving folks more time to get up-to-speed may result in some clinics further procrastinating in their preparation efforts. A lack of claim payment penalties doesn’t mean you can stop or delay educating yourself or your staff on how to code using ICD-10. The real safe harbor is knowing your clinic is ready to bill—and get paid—once the transition comes. Take advantage of the resources we make available on this website to ensure you’re ready.