California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

HHS Sets New Deadline for Adopting Medical Billing Code System

On Monday, HHS released a proposed rule that would delay the compliance deadline for transitioning to ICD-10 code sets to Oct. 1, 2014, Modern Healthcare reports (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 4/9).


U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.

In February, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that her agency would begin a process to delay for certain health care entities the Oct. 1, 2013, deadline for complying with ICD-10 standards (California Healthline, 2/17).

New Deadline

The new timeline would delay the compliance date by one year (Modern Healthcare, 4/9).

HHS said it decided to push back the compliance date partly in response to health care providers' concerns that they would not be able to meet the initial deadline.

HHS in a release said, "We believe the change in the compliance date for ICD-10, as proposed in this rule, would give providers and other covered entities more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition by all industry segments" (Sullivan, Government Health IT, 4/9).

More details on the proposed ICD-10 compliance delay are available from a CMS fact sheet (Modern Healthcare, 4/9).

Unique Health Plan Identifier

HHS' proposed rule also includes a provision that would establish a unique health plan identifier for all health insurers. The proposal was developed by CMS' Office of E-Health Standards and Services, which is working to develop standards for electronic health care transactions under the 1996 HIPAA law (Healthcare Informatics, 4/9).

According to HHS, the proposed rule -- which is part of the administrative simplification provisions of the federal health reform law -- "simplifies the administrative process for providers by proposing that health plans have a unique identifier of a standard length and format to facilitate routine use in computer systems. This will allow provider offices to automate and simplify their processes, particularly when processing bills and other transactions" (HHS release, 4/9).

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