New Law Gives ODs More Time to Prepare for ICD-10 Transition

Implementation of the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) family of diagnostic and procedural codes has been delayed for at least one year thanks to a new law which prevents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from implementing the massive new code set before Oct. 1, 2015.

As was previously reported by the AOA, the ICD-10 delay was included in optometry-backed legislation blocking a scheduled 24 percent reduction in Medicare payments to ODs and other physicians. That law provides optometrists with a 0.5 percent Medicare payment boost through the remainder of 2014 and extends, among other provisions, the "GPCI floor" which protects doctors, including many ODs, from being paid less in less expensive regions.

Overall, the delay gives optometrists additional time to prepare for implementation of the extensive new code set, which is adapted for use in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Prior to passage of the new law, optometrists only had six months to get ready for the transition deadline, and those who had not heeded calls to begin preparing their practices would have likely faced serious administrative issues and potential cash-flow problems. 

Now, ODs have more time to ensure that they are prepared by taking full advantage of AOA's growing list of ICD-10 resources before the new deadline next year. Many of those coding resources are complimentary or included with an AOA membership, though others products are available for purchase through the AOA Marketplace with substantial member discounts. Even though the deadline for ICD-10 transition has been pushed back, AOA's coding and practice management experts continue to caution that ODs should begin preparing their practices now.

Medical records and coding services for AOA members are provided by the AOA's Third Party Center (TPC) coding experts, Doug Morrow, O.D., Rebecca Wartman, O.D., and Harvey Richman, O.D. AOA members with questions pertaining to "Ask the Coding Experts" webinars, including the hugely-popular webinar series Ask the Coding Experts present ICD-10: Are you prepared? should contact the AOA's TPC. All medical records and coding questions should be submitted through the online form and one of the Coding Experts will respond to member requests.

And, as a special bonus, all AOA members who attend the AOA's Congressional Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., April 27 through April 29 of this year are eligible for a continuing education (CE) course covering ICD-10 basics. Led by Coding Expert, Dr. Wartman, the ICD-10 course being held at optometry's largest annual advocacy gathering is an important opportunity for AOA members to learn more about the new 70,000 code set, which will have a huge impact on Medicare, is federally-mandated, and much more complicated than its predecessor.