It's April; do you know when your ICD-10 deadline is?

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

This was supposed to be a post about what to do in the last six months we had before the Oct. 1 ICD-10 compliance deadline.

But on Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014” — which pushes the ICD-10 compliance deadline to Oct. 1, 2015.

That pretty much throws the healthcare IT industry in turmoil. There are timetables and contracts that will have to be rethought. But let's focus on what's next.

What is next

Either the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) will issue a statement. It might be vague and full of boilerplate text. But it will address the delay in some way.

Next, DHHS needs to issue a rule. That means it must be written and submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rule will spell out exactly what will happen regarding to ICD-10 implementation. It's going to take a couple weeks.

This is what happens when laws are passed. The law must be made into a rule that defines how the law will be applied.

Note there is a slight chance that there won't be a final rule at first. DHHS could propose a rule with a commenting period. That means DHHS sees some wiggle room in the wording of the law that gives it some discretion in ICD-10 implementation. I don't know if that's possible. But the healthcare policy wonks may see an opportunity.

If that's the case, the DHHS will want to solicit comments on the idea. Trouble is that any attempt to have some sort of 2014 deadline is running out of time. Commenting periods take up months. Then the DHHS will need to catalog and consider the comments.

A commenting period is unlikely. DHHS will want to move as swiftly as a federal agency can to give everyone clarity. There really isn't time to do something fancy.

Until we get some statements and a final rule is issued, we won't know for sure what's going to happen Oct. 1. But the simplest, most straightforward option is most likely.

ICD-10 implementation will happen Oct. 1, 2015.