HHS Proposes New ICD-10 Code Sets; Comments Due by Oct. 21

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has released a proposed regulation to replace existing ICD-9-CM code sets with a new, larger group of codes called ICD-10.

The new code sets would become effective Oct. 1, 2011.

A news release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Public Affairs noted that the ICD-9 codes were “developed almost 30 years ago” and as such are “now widely viewed as outdated because of its limited ability to accommodate new procedures and diagnoses. ICD-9 contains only 17,000 codes and is expected to run out of available codes next year. By contrast, the ICD-10 code sets contain more than 155,000 codes and accommodate a host of new diagnoses and procedures.”

The additional codes are also expected to facilitate the use of electronic health records, HHS says, because they have been designed to provide greater detail in electronic transactions.

The International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification, aka ICD-9-CM, are code sets used to indicate patient diagnoses and other data on health records, health surveys and for surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic procedures.

Said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems in the news statement, “Now is the right time to move forward with the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. We recognize that the transition to ICD-10 will require some up-front costs, but each year of delay would create additional costs, both because of the limitations of ICD-9 and because of the need to employ greater precision that ICD-10 codes provide to support value-based purchasing of health care and other initiatives.”

CMS is accepting comments on the ICD-10 proposed rule until 5 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008.
At press time, CMS said it would be soon providing a fact sheet on the proposed rule, available by visiting www.cms.hhs.gov/apps/ media/fact_sheets.asp.

This article originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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