CMS must expedite ICD-10 testing, AHA tells national panel

AHA News

Hospitals remain concerned that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not begun the end-to-ending testing of ICD-10 electronic transactions and claims adjudications that will be essential to meeting the Oct. 1 implementation date, the AHA told a national panel focused on ICD-10 on Feb. 19.

“We urge CMS to expedite the testing process to begin as soon as possible and ensure all testing is complete by the end of June so that providers, payers and clearinghouses can resolve any issues discovered during testing and complete training well in advance of the Oct. 1 transition date,” George Arges, the AHA senior director of the health data management group, testified at a National Committee on Vital Health and Statistics (NCVHS) panel.

At the NCVHS meeting, CMS announced that it would begin limited end-to-end testing for ICD-10 this summer, and agency representatives said that no further delays in implementation of ICD-10 would be granted.

Oct. 1 is the deadline for hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to transition to the ICD-10 coding system for medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures. While the move to ICD-10 will significantly expand the coding system, it also will allow for greater coding accuracy and specificity, and will provide a mechanism to capture and fully describe new medical technologies and advances.

NCVHS’s Feb. 19 panel included representatives from CMS and a number of national health care provider groups. The AHA’s Arges said that, based on preliminary results from a recently concluded AHA ICD-10 survey, the vast majority of hospitals were confident that they would be ready to transition to ICD-10 by Oct. 1.

“Most are actively training coders, educating clinicians, and either beginning or planning for testing with payers,” he said.

He discussed with the panel two key components – testing for connectivity and testing for content – that should be involved in the ICD-10 testing process and shared an AHA chart detailing how testing should flow. (See chart on the bottom of this page.) In addition, Arges discussed the important role physicians will play in the transition to ICD-10, including making sure that they have provided sufficient documentation for coders to select the correct codes.

While the number of codes under ICD-10 will increase, most physicians will not be responsible for knowing the actual codes, Arges said. However, they will need to learn about conceptual changes to the subset of codes specific to their clinical area.

He also said training for clinical coding staff will be important, and during this period hospitals will start “dual coding” some claims with both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes to help coders become more familiar with using the new codes.

“A successful transition requires cooperation from all parties – health care providers, public and private payers and clearinghouses,” Arges said. “As the clock runs out on preparation time, all parties must redouble their efforts to ensure a smooth and timely roll-out of the project.”

To read the full testimony and access other ICD-10 resources, visit

Topic: Advocacy and Public Policy

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