“Safe Harbor” Interval During Implementation of New Medical Coding

At PAINWeek 2014, a Special Interest Session was devoted to preparing practitioners for the upcoming transition from the current ICD-9 medical coding set to the updated ICD-10 system, and to provide a “heads-up” on the impending complexities involved. Now, pending legislation, Congress would institute an 18-month “safe harbor” period after the October 1, 2015, implementation date designed to help physicians, administrative staff, and medical record management professionals effectively adapt to the sweeping healthcare coding overhaul. The bill was endorsed last week by the American College of Rheumatology.

ICD-10 will effectively quadruple the number of diagnosis and medical billing codes from 13,000 to more than 68,000. The transition will prove especially taxing for small and rural practices, which have fewer resources to accommodate the complexity of the new system. Under ICD-10, if physicians submit the wrong 7-digit code, they risk nonpayment altogether. This threat to payment stability is critical to the delivery of quality healthcare, especially in traditionally underserved urban and rural areas. Under the “safe harbor” provision of the proposed ICD-10 Act (H.R. 2247), providers are not denied payment due to minor mistakes in diagnosis coding during the transition to ICD-10. The bill does not allow dual-coding or the continued submission of ICD-9 codes.

For access to Jen Bolen’s slide presentation Proper Billing and Coding of Laboratory Services: A Survey of CPT and HCPCS Codes, click here.

Don’t miss seeing Jennifer Bolen, JD, present in person at PAINWeekEnd Nashville or Denver. Click here for more information!

Register now for PAINWeek in Las Vegas, September 8-12, to learn about changes in medical coding, and so much more.

Read more about the proposed legislation, with link to the House bill, here.


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