News came out last week that the Department of Health and Human Services has recommended delaying the implementation of ICD-10 a year, from October 2013 to October 2014. The reason they're giving is that there are still major problems with implementing their new electronic standards for billing, the 5010 version, and thus it's hard to do the first since it's dependent upon the second being ready.

At this point it's all becoming a major joke. I actually wrote in 2010 asking the question Is Health Care In America Ready For ICD-10; guess not. Even the government isn't ready for it. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about the reality that the rest of the world will be moving to ICD-11 by at least 2015, which means the United States will pretty much be 20 years behind the times with no idea of how to catch up. After all, ICD-9 has been around since 1979; oy!

The same thing keeps happening over and over, and in my opinion the federal government needs to find a way to work with, well, people like me, or at least people in health care, to stop all these proclamations they keep coming up with that no one is prepared to do and find ways to work with health care providers to do these things instead of having people with no background or history making decisions.

What kinds of things am I talking about? First, there's the issue of electronic medical records. That was supposed to be implemented in 2003 and here we are 9 years later and it's still not a reality. The problem of course is that many hospitals had to spend money upgrading their computer systems in 1999 in advance of the expected problems with the 2000 conversion (which ended up not affecting all that many people across the board) and didn't have the money to pay for something else.

Next there's all the paperwork that the government supposedly said it was going to reduce, but instead it's increased. This fascination with repetitive forms that make little sense, even to the government, raises the administrative costs of health care during a time when the government is telling health care providers they need to figure out how to contain costs.

Frankly, if I'm running a hospital I might dawdle as well when it comes to all these things because there almost always seems to be a delay, and if I can keep some of my cash in my savings account for a little longer to build up my reserves so I can pay for some of the idiocy, it might benefit me in the long run. Okay, I wouldn't really do that because that would hurt worse than trying to become compliant. Still, the way the government seems to work when it comes to health care leaves little doubt as to why so many people look at things like the Health Care initiative, which I'm calling it until the Supreme Court decides on things later this year, with skepticism.

Oh well, at least hospitals have more time to get their medical records coders trained on ICD-10, which was driving many of them bonkers.