Could Congress delay ICD-10 again next week?

ICD-10 implementation could become collateral damage in bigger healthcare policy fights.

The ICD-10 opposition, in fact, advocated slipping a two-year delay into a piece of must-pass legislation during this lame duck session of Congress.

That legislation may be the fiscal year 2015 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill. (Hat tip to Mary Butler for pointing out this funding bill in the Journal of AHIMA.)

The proposed bill, in limbo since the summer because it contains partisan provisions, would fund several healthcare programs next year.

Now, it’s not exactly the slam dunk to pass that the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) was; that’s the bill that pushed off any real action on the Sustainable Growth Rate and carried a provision prohibiting HHS to mandate ICD-10 compliance prior to October 1, 2015.

There will be opposition to the Labor-HHS bill no matter what it says about ICD-10 implementation. Indeed, U.S. Representatives and Senators will have many reasons to vote against it that don’t have anything to do with medical coding.

So adding an ICD-10 amendment won’t automatically mean another delay.

If the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill does carry a two-year ICD-10 deadline extension, however, it will be hard to persuade lawmakers to vote against a bill their leadership is pushing just because of the ICD-10 provision.

No matter what happens in December, there will be other healthcare bills that could carry anti-ICD-10 amendments. The SGR bill will come around in the spring, and there’s also the possibility that someone could resurrect the proposed Cutting Costly Codes of 2013 Act.

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