The Federal Register published July 3, 2013 with proposed changes in Medicare Home Health policy for 2014 includes removal of 170 ICD-9-CM codes from the HH Grouper. The proposal contends that these diagnoses are either “too acute” to be addressed in the home health setting or would not otherwise affect the home health plan of care. These proposals stem from work that CMS and its contractors are conducting to roll out ICD-10-CM codes into the HH Grouper effective 10/1/2014.
ICD-10 is a big deal and home health operators will be making major decisions with regard to securing training for staff members and / or possibly to outsource coding to companies like SMART Healthcare. Coding home health claims for appropriate reimbursement and compliance with coding guidelines in home health is a special art. With the number of potential codes growing from 14,000 (ICD-9) to over 69,000 (ICD-10) and the critical impact coding has on episodic reimbursement home health owners will want to carefully determine the best course of action starting now.