Some senators still urging for ICD-10 delay

While the healthcare industry is preparing for the Oct. 1 ICD-10 transition, a handful of senators continue to express concern of the transition date, voicing their qualms at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing last Thursday.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said in the subcommittee hearing that small physician practices could be greatly affected, as gaps in payments and disruptions to cash flow due to unpaid Medicare claims could cause serious repercussions for these practices. "The concern is that there's not going to be a smooth transition from one to another," Sen. Lankford said in the meeting, according to Health Data Management.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell responded to Sen. Lankford's concerns by saying the number of providers not prepared for ICD-10 is very small, but HHS will continue to work with those providers until the transition date to ensure they are ready and eliminate any potential problems, according to the report. "The hospital associations have done surveys, and we have very high percentages of people reporting that they are ready," Secretary Burwell said. "For any of those that aren't, we are still in the process of providing the technical assistance, and we will go in to try and do the training."

The concerns of Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), MD, however, were not soothed. He also said small practices are the most vulnerable during the transition. Sen. Cassidy cited CMS statistics estimating denial rates at the beginning of ICD-10 implementation could rise by 100 to 200 percent, and accounts receivable could increase from 20 to 40 percent. "That urologist in south Louisiana, who's in a one- or two-person practice, cannot afford to have denials go to 100 to 200 percent and accounts receivable growing by 20 to 40 percent," he said, according to the report.

Sen. Cassidy suggested CMS delay the penalty phase of ICD-10's implementation for two years to let providers transition. Otherwise, he said small physician offices will be forced out of business.

More articles on ICD-10:

5 ICD-10 preparation priorities
GAO: CMS is ready for ICD-10
Could an ICD-10 delay threaten national security?

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