On July 6, 2015 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a joint announcement that they would be working with physicians to be prepared for the October 1, 2015 transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding for medical diagnoses and inpatient hospital procedures.

CMS and AMA will be educating providers through webinars, on-site training, educational articles and national provider calls to help physicians and other health care providers become familiar with the updated codes and prepare for the transition to the ICED-10 codes by the October 1st transition date.

CMS also announced that it is releasing additional guidance to providers that will allow for more flexibility in claims auditing and quality reporting process as the medical community gains more experience with the new ICD-10 codes.  AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D. stated that “ICD-10 implementation is set to begin on October 1, and it is imperative that physician practices take steps beforehand to be ready.  We appreciate that CMS is adopting policies to ease the transition to ICD-10 in response to physicians’ concerns that inadvertent coding errors or system glitches during the transition to ICDE-10 may result in audits, claims denials, and penalties under various Medicare reporting programs.  The actions CMS is initiating today can help to mitigate potential problems.”

The ICD codes have not been updated in over 35 years and contain outdated and obsolete terms.  The joint announcement from CMS and AMA noted that the implementation of ICD-10 “should advance public health research and emergency response through detection of disease outbreaks and adverse drug events, as well as support innovative payment models that drive quality of care.”  As part of the transition to ICD-10, Medicare claims processing systems will not be capable of accepting ICD-9 codes for dates of services after September 30, 2015, nor will they be able to accept claims for both ICD-9 and ICDE-10 codes.

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