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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Feds Heed Medicine's Call for ICD-10 Flexibility

It wasn’t all that we asked for. But it was a good bit more than I expected from a federal agency that hasn’t exactly embraced the idea that the ICD-10 coding system is a hugely expensive waste of time for physicians and patients. First off, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) decision is not a delay. To get paid by Medicare — and other payers — physicians still must begin using ICD-10 on Oct. 1. Most importantly, the grace period essentially means that for one year Medicare claims will not be denied solely on the specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis codes physicians provide, as long as you submit an ICD-10 code from an appropriate family of codes. TMA President Tom Garcia, MD, expressed some serious skepticism over whether this will be enough to prevent a coding disaster. “I'm worried that the software vendors, government, and other links in this complex chain will not be ready, and if so, physicians and their patients will suffer the consequences,” Dr. Garcia told the news media. “I hope CMS will extend the one-year penalty-free and audit-free grace period if we need more time.”

TMA, meanwhile, is ramping up our ICD-10 educational materials for physicians and your staff:

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