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Friday, March 28, 2014

Legislative update

OK, now it look like there will be no further action until a Senate vote on Monday. From Modern Healthcare:
Reform Update: Docs irate over ‘doc fix’ patch; fight shifts to Senate

Doctors are trying to stoke a rebellion against the doc fix.

A one-year extension of the doc-fix patch passed the House by voice vote Thursday, and so efforts to derail the measure now move to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has reportedly scheduled a vote for Monday.

The American Medical Association issued a statement from President Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven saying the association “is extremely disappointed in today's House action to give up on SGR repeal. There was bipartisan, bicameral support for reform this year, yet too many in Congress lacked the courage and wherewithal to permanently fix Medicare to improve care for patients and provide greater certainty for physician practices. Congressional leadership had to resort to trickery to pass an SGR patch that was opposed by physicians.”

Dr. Charles Mick, an orthopedic surgeon from Northampton, Mass., and a past president of the North American Spine Society, expressed disappointment that congressional leaders once again opted for a patch. “All of us had been very optimistic that this was the best chance in many years for a permanent fix to the SGR problem,” he said.

Now that the House has acted, the chances of heading off the deal appear remote. But Mick is not giving up hope. “We will be putting pressure on the Senate to hopefully come up with a proposal,” he said. “Whether that will occur or not we don't know.”...
 Also from Modern Healthcare,
ICD-10 extension in doc-fix bill divides healthcare industry

While powerful healthcare industry groups are lobbying on both sides of a congressional measure that would force a delay in the launch of the complex and voluminous new sets of diagnostic and procedural codes known as ICD-10, providers are divided on whether the delay will help or hurt them.

Their positions depend on how confident they are they will be ready for the switch to ICD-10 scheduled for Oct. 1, 2014.

The bill, which delays implementation until at least October 2015, passed the House on Thursday and a Senate vote is expected Monday.

“We put a ton of effort into preparing for ICD-10,” said Dr. Brian Patty, chief medical information officer at four-hospital HealthEast Care System, St. Paul, Minn. “We've had our ICD-10 steering committee up and running for two years.”

At immediate risk are contracts the system has for extra coders for case review and to convert ICD-9 codes from an ambulatory electronic health record running on ICD-9 that's being phased out and won't be replaced until next year.

“That's literally about a half a million dollars for various contractors to cover us when we go up on ICD-10,” Patty said.

But what may be worse—if the delay goes into effect—is its impact on relationships with affiliated physicians, who comprise about four-fifths of the medical staff.

“We just began training all of our physicians with online training about a month ago,” Patty said. About 200 have completed two to four hours of training, which will have to be repeated next year if the delay goes into effect, he said...
Again, I have to think that the Obama Administration wants to put the ICD-10 rollout on hold (sans fingerprints) until after the 2014 midterm elections, lest there be another KatrinaCare fiasco.

Interesting thoughts from Tom Sullivan:
Latest ICD-10 one-liner is no joke
Senate's turn to vote on ICD-10 delay on Monday

WASHINGTON | March 28, 2014

Whether you’re on that chair edge hoping President Obama gets a chance to sign the provision pushing ICD-10 back within the Sustainable Growth Rate fix into law, or crossing fingers that the Senate kills it come Monday, no matter.

The reality is that a code set conversion simply should not be about politics.

Other than lazily dumping ICD-10 and the SGR process for determining how much to pay doctors who treat Medicare patients under the umbrella term of healthcare reimbursements, the tie between them prior to the now infamous Section 212 bomb within the bill, ICD-10 and SGR have almost nothing to do with each other.

Proponents of ICD-10 have made the case for years that the U.S. needs the modern classification system as a key piece of digitizing the last multi-trillion dollar sector to be industrialized. Opponents, likewise, have been vocal that the immediate benefits are unproven, even by countries such as Canada and Australia that have been using ICD-10 for years, insisting that the ride may not be worth its ticket price for those who actually have to use the codes and pay for that privilege, and questioning just how modern ICD-10 will be when it’s live in production...

More to come...

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