The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and American Medical Association (AMA) have announced they are introducing measures to ease the transition to ICD-10.
According to a CMS and AMA news release (pdf), CMS released additional guidance that will allow for flexibility in the claims auditing and quality reporting process as the medical community gains experience using the new ICD-10 code set.
ICD-10 implementation is set to begin October 1, 2015.
The guidance was spelled out in a series of four Q&As published by CMS (pdf), which read as follows:
Q1. What if I run into a problem with the transition to ICD-10 on or after October 1st, 2015?
A1. CMS understands that moving to ICD-10 is bringing significant changes to the provider community. CMS will set up a communication and collaboration center for monitoring the implementation of ICD-10. This center will quickly identify and initiate resolution of issues that arise as a result of the transition to ICD-10. As part of the center, CMS will have an ICD-10 Ombudsman to help receive and triage physician and provider issues. The Ombudsman will work closely with representatives in CMS’s regional offices to address physicians’ concerns. As we get closer to the October 1, 2015, compliance date, CMS will issue guidance about how to submit issues to the Ombudsman.
Q2. What happens if I use the wrong ICD-10 code, will my claim be denied?
A2. While diagnosis coding to the correct level of specificity is the goal for all claims, for 12 months after ICD-10 implementation, Medicare review contractors will not deny physician or other practitioner claims billed under the Part B physician fee schedule through either automated medical review or complex medical record review based solely on the specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis code as long as the physician/practitioner used a valid code from the right family. However, a valid ICD-10 code will be required on all claims starting on October 1, 2015. It is possible a claim could be chosen for review for reasons other than the specificity of the ICD-10 code and the claim would continue to be reviewed for these reasons. This policy will be adopted by the Medicare Administrative Contractors, the Recovery Audit Contractors, the Zone Program Integrity Contractors, and the Supplemental Medical Review Contractor.
Q3. What happens if I use the wrong ICD-10 code for quality reporting? Will Medicare deny an informal review request?
A3. For all quality reporting completed for program year 2015 Medicare clinical quality data review contractors will not subject physicians or other Eligible Professionals (EP) to the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Modifier (VBM), or Meaningful Use (MU) penalty during primary source verification or auditing related to the additional specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis code, as long as the physician/EP used a code from the correct family of codes. Furthermore, an EP will not be subjected to a penalty if CMS experiences difficulty calculating the quality scores for PQRS, VBM, or MU due to the transition to ICD-10 codes.
CMS will not deny any informal review request based on 2015 quality measures if it is found that the EP submitted the requisite number/type of measures and appropriate domains on the specified number/percentage of patients, and the EP’s only error(s) is/are related to the specificity of the ICD-10 diagnosis code (as long as the physician/EP used a code from the correct family of codes).
CMS will continue to monitor the implementation and adjust the timeframe if needed.
Q4. What is advanced payment and how can I access this if needed?
A4. When the Part B Medicare Contractors are unable to process claims within established time limits because of administrative problems, such as contractor system malfunction or implementation problems, an advance payment may be available. An advance payment is a conditional partial payment, which requires repayment, and may be issued when the conditions described in CMS regulations at 42 CFR Section 421.214 are met.
To apply for an advance payment, the Medicare physician/supplier is required to submit the request to their appropriate Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). Should there be Medicare systems issues that interfere with claims processing, CMS and the MACs will post information on how to access advance payments. CMS does not have the authority to make advance payments in the case where a physician is unable to submit a valid claim for services rendered.
As FierceHealthIT notes, these announcements "essentially sounded the death knell for the possibility of a fourth delay" for ICD-10, so it is imperative for organizations to prepare for the transition. PGM Billing, a leading provider of clinical billing services and healthcare revenue cycle management services, provides a free, comprehensive "ICD-10 Code Lookup Tool" that allows users to easily convert ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes and vice versa.
Bookmark this page so you can easily access the conversion engine leading up to implementation date and then use it once the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is made.