HHS delays ICD-10, releases health plan identifier rule

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The Department of Health & Human Services this week officially proposed delaying the ICD-10 deadline by an extra year to Oct. 1, 2014. It also released a proposed rule establishing a unique health plan identifier under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

With the proposed rule, HHS follows through on its promise in February to delay the ICD-10 compliance deadline. The agency said that postponing the deadline allows providers and insurers additional time to prepare and test their systems "to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition among all industry segments," reported Computer World.

The delay is "an attempt to give people some ability to reprioritize," because providers and insurers also must comply with multiple reform law requirements, Kaveh Safavi, an Accenture managing director, told The Wall Street Journal Health Blog.

Delaying ICD-10 compliance has elicited a mix bag of reactions, however, from industry experts. Insurers are woefully unprepared to meet the previous deadline, which was set for this October, but some experts have predicted that a one-year delay would be costly and do nothing to improve readiness for the implementation. American Health Information Management Association CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon has opposed the ICD-10 deadline delay. "I'm scared there will be lost momentum," she told InformationWeek Healthcare.

The proposed rule also would require insurers to use a unique identifier--which, for the first time, would be standardized in length and format--on all electronic transactions, Computer World noted.

With the new identifier, insurers could avoid multiple identification codes they currently use to identify themselves, including taxpayer identification numbers, employer identification numbers and proprietary codes, reported LifeHealthPro. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the identifier rule would cut "red tape" and save the industry $4.6 billion over the next 10 years.

To learn more:
- read the HHS fact sheet and proposed rule
- read the InformationWeek Healthcare article
- see the Computer World article
- check out the Wall Street Journal Health Blog post

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