I really do not understand how Congress “works.” While it busied itself with passing a law that fails to fix the clearly broken “sustainable growth rate” formula for Medicare physician payments, it added in a surprise for the entire healthcare industry: a provision that mandates a delay in the adoption of ICD-10 by CMS.
According to Modern Healthcare, it is not even clear which lawmaker added it to the bill.
It is no secret that several organizations, including the AMA strongly opposed the planned October 1, 2014 implementation date. I was always ambivalent about ICD-10, for reasons that I have previously shared but this delay seems like very bad public policy to me, for the following reasons:
- It punishes the prepared who have hired and trained new coders, invested in new information systems and educated clinicians. The delay basically blows up work plans for a host of activities and leaves providers and payers in a bind – they can’t move forward, but they can’t easily suspend many of these activities either
- It creates uncertainty, which in many ways is the worst public policy. With every delay (this is just the latest of many) comes increased skepticism that the next deadline is “for real.” That, in turn, makes planning and preparing even harder
- The move to delay was a rider on a bill about something else. There was no transparency about who added it or why, and no opportunity for legislators to evaluate it on its merits. Not what I would call good government
So, now what? I have no idea.
What do you think?