GAO Report on CMS Prep for ICD-10 - January 2015

Posted: Feb 10 2015



Why GAO Did This Study

In the United States, every claim submitted by health care providers to payers—including Medicare and Medicaid—for reimbursement includes ICD codes. On October 1, 2015, all covered entities will be required to transition to the 10th revision of the codes, requiring entities to develop, test, and implement updated information technology systems. Entities must also train staff in using the new codes, and may need to modify internal business processes. CMS has a role in preparing covered entities for the transition.

GAO was asked to review the transition to ICD-10 codes. GAO (1) evaluated the status of CMS’s activities to support covered entities in the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding; and (2) described stakeholders’ most significant concerns and recommendations regarding CMS’s activities to prepare covered entities for the ICD-10 transition, and how CMS has addressed those concerns and recommendations. GAO reviewed CMS documentation, interviewed CMS officials, and analyzed information from a non-probability sample of 28 stakeholder organizations representing covered entities and their support vendors, which GAO selected because they participated in meetings CMS held in 2013 or met GAO’s other selection criteria.

GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS. HHS concurred with GAO’s findings and provided technical comments, which GAO has incorporated, as appropriate.

What GAO Found

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has undertaken a number of efforts to prepare for the October 1, 2015, transition to the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes, which are used for documenting patient medical diagnoses and inpatient medical procedures. CMS has developed educational materials, such as checklists and timelines, for entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)—that is, health care providers, clearinghouses, and health plans, which GAO refers to as “payers”—and their support vendors. In addition, CMS has conducted outreach to prepare covered entities for the transition by, for example, holding in-person training for small physician practices in some states. CMS officials have also monitored covered entity and vendor readiness through stakeholder collaboration meetings, focus group testing, and review of surveys conducted by the health care industry. CMS also reported modifying its Medicare systems and policies. For example, CMS documentation states that the agency completed all ICD-10-related changes to its Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) claims processing systems, which reflect the results of internal testing. At this time, it is not known what, if any, changes might be necessary based upon the agency's ongoing external testing activities. CMS has also provided technical assistance to Medicaid agencies and monitored their readiness for the transition. For example, all Medicaid agencies reported that they would be able to perform all of the activities that CMS has identified as critical by the transition deadline; however, as of November 2014, not all agencies have started to test their systems' abilities to accept and adjudicate claims containing ICD-10 codes.


Download the entire report as a PDF document by clicking here


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