• Ready Or Not, ICD-10 is Here

    The moment of truth is upon us. ICD-10 is here.

    On Oct. 1, all physicians and health care providers must convert their billing systems from ICD-9 to ICD-10. This also will mark the day that all payers -- Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance -- will no longer accept claims for care provided that does not include an ICD-10 code.  

    I understand that there remains a fading glimmer of hope that Congress will step in and avert the implementation of ICD-10, but as we have stated for much of the past year, Oct. 1 will come and ICD-10 will be implemented. Although I am approaching Oct. 1 with cautious optimism that the conversion will go smoothly, I recognize fully that a conversion of this size will not occur independent of challenges. The AAFP’s top priority is making certain that you have the resources you need to make the transition and deal with any problems that may arise as a result of the conversion.  

    To this end, I want to call attention to the AAFP’s top ICD-10 resources:

    The AAFP will be carefully monitoring this transition and will be communicating all information we receive from family physicians directly to CMS. If you encounter challenges with claims submission or, more importantly, claim rejections please let us know so we can work with you to resolve these issues.  The AAFP has created a direct communication link. (Log in required.) I wish each of you luck.

    Frustrated With Meaningful Use? Speak Out for Reform
    The AAFP continues to be extremely concerned about the future of the meaningful use program and the administrative burdens family physicians face in their efforts to comply with these regulations. In July we called for a delay in the implementation of stage 3 and outlined a series of reforms we believe should be implemented to make stage 2 more simple and therefore achievable for physicians. As noted in my Sept. 1 post, the AAFP is actively advancing legislation that would reform the meaningful use program.

    On Sept. 17, the AAFP joined a number of physician organizations in sending a letter to Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging a delay in the implementation of meaningful use stage 3.  

    Although we remain hopeful that the administration will take the necessary actions to both delay the implementation of MU3 and make much needed improvements in MU2, we are not sitting by and hoping for the best. We are actively engaged with the House and Senate on advancing legislation that would require action on the part of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Technology and CMS.  Specifically, we are strongly supporting the Further Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability (FLEX-IT 2) Act (HR 3309) introduced in July by Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.  

    The FLEX-IT 2 Act would:

    • Eliminate the “all or nothing” assessment and replace it with a standard allowing physicians to be evaluated based on the proportion of MU measures they meet.
    • Delay meaningful use stage 3 regulations.
    • Allow physicians to attest for MU based on a 90-day reporting period instead of a burdensome 365-day reporting period. Physicians reporting at all MU stages would be allowed this 90-day flexibility, and it would remain in place for all subsequent years.
    • Expand the allowable conditions for MU hardship exceptions. Under the bill, physicians will be allowed to claim a hardship exception in several scenarios, including a change in technology vendors, unforeseen circumstances (like becoming the victim of a cyber-attack), being at or near retirement or working in certain specialties with limited patient interaction outside the hospital.
    • Require that all certified electronic health records (EHRs) undergo interoperability testing.
    • Harmonize CMS quality reporting standards across all programs.

    The AAFP voiced our strong support in a letter to Rep. Ellmers, and we are aggressively lobbying for the passage of this important legislation. I encourage each of you to take a few minutes to lend your voice to our effort and signal the strong support of family physicians for this legislation. Please use our Speak Out campaign and tell your representative to support of the FLEX-IT 2 Act. Your voice matters, and it needs to be heard.

    ONC Launches Website for EHR Complaints

    ONC has launched a website where physicians can voice complaints about EHRs, including sharing concerns about information blocking, safety concerns and questions regarding the performance of certified EHR products. Deputy National Coordinator Jon White outlined the website in a Sept. 16 blog post. The AAFP has long encouraged ONC to launch a direct communication medium with physicians, and we are pleased that they have followed our recommendation.

    You should contact ONC if:

    • Your challenge appears to be related to health information blocking.
    • You are not able to share or receive health information.
    • You are concerned about the usability of your EHR.
    • The certified capabilities of your product are not performing as you expected.
    • You have concerns about the safety of your product.


    Stephanie Quinn, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy.  Read author bio »


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    The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.