Friday, February 28, 2014

Tavenner: No ICD-10 Delay, But Expect Some MU Relief

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media , February 27, 2014

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has announced that the ICD-10 deadline will not be delayed, but she is offering relief to providers, payers, and health information technology vendors struggling to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.

Two announcements from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner at the HIMSS 2014 conference in Orlando Thursday will have wide-ranging implications for healthcare providers, insurers, and vendors.
The deadline for implementing the ICD-10 diagnostic coding set, which had already been delayed one year to October 1, 2014, will not be delayed again, Tavenner said.
And while the Stage 2 Meaningful Use deadline will also not be delayed, Tavenner said that providers and vendors struggling to meet the incentive program's requirements will see some flexibility.
During the keynote presentation Thursday morning at HIMSS 14 in Orlando, Tavenner announced a partial reprieve for physicians and medical systems finding it difficult to adjust to Meaningful Use guidelines—but urged professionals to come up to speed quickly.
"We have decided to permit flexibility on how hardship exemptions will be granted," Tavenner said. "I must stress we expect all providers to meet requirements in 2015. I urge you to meet the requirements this year." Scattered applause broke from members of the crowd as Tavenner made the announcement.
"We certainly have experienced… difficulties, and I can personally relate to the challenges of new systems, relationships with vendors, and charting a course through previously unnavigated waters," Tavenner said, referring to the well-documented difficulties with website.
When confronted by a question regarding patient safety during the Q & A session after the keynote, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Karen DeSalvo, said, "We are exploring our options to help you… we want to make sure you are not penalized for doing the right thing."
These comments come at a time when many within the healthcare industry are expressing concerns regarding the ability to adopt the Meaningful Use standards as specified in the HITECH act. On the Friday before HIMSS, more than 40 healthcare industry groups penned a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking more time for Meaningful Use attestation, and citing concerns over patient safety and lack of vendor support.
On Thursday, in an exclusive interview with HealthLeaders Media, Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst disclosed that his organization is unready to seek MU Stage 2 attestation and will forgo incentive payments and trigger penalties.

'It's Time to Move On'While concerns from within the industry are being taken seriously, there will be no turning back. While CMS will be offering exemptions on a case-by-case basis, "Now is not the time for us to stop moving forward," Tavenner said. She was especially unyielding regarding the new ICD-10 coding system.
"Let's face it guys; it's time to move on," Tavenner said. "There will be no change in the deadline for ICD-10. CMS began installing and testing systems for ICD-10 in 2011. All fee for service systems at CMS are ready."
Earlier this month, in response to concerns raised by providers and a group of U.S. senators, CMS agreed to perform end-to-end ICD-10 testing with a small sample group of providers selected to represent "a broad cross-section of provider types, claims types, and submitter types."
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) responded to Tavenner's comments at HIMSS in a statement released shortly after the keynote speech.
"[CHIME] welcomes CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner's announcement this morning, acknowledging the need to provide relief for our nation's providers. Such relief is vitally important for the future success of Meaningful Use, as ICD-10 deadlines and continued shifts in payment policies demand an ever-increasing amount of IT and workforce resources," the statement read.
In the event that expansion of the Hardship Expectations provides the "kind of relief the industry desperately needs," CHIME will pledge to assist CMS "in every way possible," the statement continued. "It will be CHIME's highest policy priority to ensure that providers receive the kind of relief they need in order to deliver quality care."