CDC announces April 1 implementation of ICD-10-CM COVID-19 code

March 18, 2020 / By Rhonda Butler

March 23 update: CMS has posted a one-page summary document outlining the ICD-10 MS-DRG code assignment and definitions for the new COVID-19 code, effective for discharges on or after April 1, 2020. The link for the downloadable PDF is on the CMS MS-DRG Classifications and Software website in the Latest News section.

The document also contains two links:

  1. The link to the ICD-10 MS-DRG V37.1R Grouper Software, Definitions Manual Table of Contents
    and the Definitions of Medicare Code Edits V37.1R manual, as it becomes available.
  2. The link to the CDC site for the latest information on Index and Tabular Addenda for new
    diagnosis code U07.1, COVID-19.

If you haven’t already, you can use this link to subscribe to email updates from CMS, or update your preferences/areas of interest, if you are already a subscriber.

The CDC announced this morning, March 18, that the ICD-10-CM code for COVID-19 will be implemented for use in the United States on April 1, instead of October 1. At the March 18, 2020 webcast meeting of the ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance Committee, Donna Pickett of the National Center for Health Statistics/CDC announced the new implementation date, citing timely data collection needs.

The topic packet that accompanies the C&M meeting shows an updated code title and tabular instructional notes for assigning the new code.

As of today, here is the ICD-10-CM addenda information available on the COVID-19 code:

Chapter 22
Codes for special purposes (U00-U85)
Provisional assignment of new diseases of uncertain etiology or emergency use (U00-U49)

Add         Note: Codes U00-U49 are to be used by WHO for the provisional assignment of new diseases of uncertain etiology. U07 Conditions of uncertain etiology

New code     U07.1 COVID-19

Add         Use additional code to identify pneumonia or other manifestations.

Add         Excludes1: Coronavirus infection, unspecified site (B34.2)

Add         Coronavirus as the cause of diseases classified to other chapters (B97.2-)

Add         Severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS], unspecified (J12.81)

However, Donna Pickett stated at the meeting that CDC will make changes to the addenda and post an updated version of this information. She said she hopes to have it posted by Friday March 20 on the CDC website.

Other highlights of the announcement and comments made at the meeting:

  • The interim guidelines are still in place until April 1. A downloadable copy of the interim guidelines is available here.
  • The COVID-19 code created by the WHO is not intended to be a secondary diagnosis code.
  • When asked whether the WHO is contemplating creating additional codes, Donna said, the answer is no, but they are monitoring the situation. She reiterated, “This is a first, this is unprecedented.”
  • Several participants, including Nelly Leon-Chisen of the AHA and Sue Bowman of AHIMA, as well as a representative from the FDA, thanked the CDC for changing the implementation date to April 1 and acknowledged the work involved to make the change.

All materials related to the March 18, 2020 C&M meeting will be posted to the CMS website and links can be found here when available (as of this writing, materials have been posted for the March 17 C&M meeting, which contains the procedure code portion). When the March 18 recording is posted, listen from the beginning. The announcement and discussion are in the first 15 minutes.

Rhonda Butler is a clinical research manager with 3M Health Information Systems.