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College to House subcommittee: internists must do more about Y2K

From the November 1999 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 1999 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

During congressional testimony on the Y2K problem in late September, the College said that while many internists are already addressing technical problems, more needs to be done before Jan. 1 to avert problems with claims processing.

Speaking before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Information and Technology, ACP-ASIM President Whitney W. Addington, FACP, described the College's efforts to educate internists about Y2K problems, but noted that too many internists are relying on certification from their software vendors that they are free from Y2K problems. "It is imperative that even new systems, as well as those supposedly corrected for Y2K, be tested by experts," he told the subcommittee members.

HCFA recently announced that only 2% of its 230,000 claim submitters have tested their systems with Medicare carriers to ensure that HCFA will be able to electronically process their claims after Jan. 1, 2000. Testing conducted so far has shown that between 10% and 20% of systems that were presumed to be Y2K compliant contained problems that required repair or replacement to avoid problems with Medicare claims processing. To avoid billing problems, the College has recommended that physicians test the systems they use to electronically submit claims not only to Medicare, but also to claims processors or clearinghouses.

Dr. Addington said the College is concerned that physicians who wait until the last minute to fix their systems may find too few resources to get the job done. "We are concerned that delayed testing by medical practices might lead to a last minute debugging demand that could overwhelm available resources," he said.

For more information on Y2K and Medicare, see "How Y2K is affecting Medicare claims, ICD-9 codes."

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