The country’s four largest state medical societies—California, Florida, New York, and Texas—have warned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the Oct. 1 ICD-10 implementation deadline is a “looming disaster.”

The societies say the real potential for denied and significantly delayed claims could lead to financial disaster or bankruptcy for many small physician practices.

In a letter to Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, the societies argued that even those physician practices that are “most prepared for this transition” are worried about the “confusion and reduced productivity they expect to accompany ICD-10.” The reduced productivity alone, they contend, will cost physician practices hundreds of thousands of dollars and extend patient waiting times.

As a result, the medical societies vowed that many of their 125,000 combined physician and medical student members would continue efforts in Congress to stop or delay the code switchover, though they said “protecting our patients and their physicians is far more important to us than a political victory.” Nonetheless, they said they support the recent unanimous vote of the American Medical Association House of Delegates calling for the establishment of a two-year ICD-10 grace period.

Also See: House Bill Seeks ICD-10 Grace Period

Specifically, the state medical societies urged CMS to institute:

*A two-year period during which physicians will not be penalized for errors, mistakes, and/or malfunctions of the system;

*A two-year period in which physicians will not be subject to RAC audits related to ICD-10 coding mistakes;

*A two-year period during which physician payments will not be reduced or withheld based on ICD-10 coding mistakes; and

*Advance payments in the event that claims are delayed.

“We remain steadfast in our belief that the ICD-10 coding system offers no real advantages to physicians and our patients—and certainly no advantages to justify the time and expense the entire healthcare system has invested in this transition,” concludes the letter to CMS. “Even if ICD-10 were ‘the best thing since sliced bread,’ its forced implementation would not be worth the extensive disruptions in patient care that surely will come without the grace period.”

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