AHA Opposes HIPAA Health Plan Identifiers

The Proposed Rule on HIPAA Health Plan Identifiers was published on September 5, 2012, by the Department of Health and Human Services, which placed a requirement on healthcare providers to use new health plan ID numbers for all HIPAA transactions. Last year the Final Rule was published, and from November 7, 2016, covered entities will be required to use the new Health Plan Identifiers, if health plans are identified in a transaction.

AHA Opposes the use of New Health Plan Identifiers

This week the American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced its opposition to the use of the new ID numbers. The Vice President and Deputy Director of the AHA, Ashley Thompson, wrote a letter to the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMMS), Andy Slavitt, criticising the Final Rule. The use of HIPAA Health Plan Identifiers is seen as unnecessary.

In the letter, Thompson wrote, “The intent of the HIPAA legislation was to reduce administrative costs and make the process more efficient; the adoption of the HPID within the HIPAA transaction standards does neither.” As such, the Final Rule will simply place covered entities under even more strain, adding unnecessarily to the huge administration burden they currently face. Thompson said, HIPAA Health Plan Identifiers will “create disruption and confusion to the existing system that routes claims.”

The problem is not the use of a HPID, which does offer benefits. It is the fact that most healthcare providers already have ID numbers that can be used to identify health plans, in most cases, more than 60 different numbers. These are being used to ensure that transactions are routed correctly. Since existing mechanisms exist, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Healthcare providers should just continue to identify health plans in HIPAA transactions using the current methods they are using, according to Thompson.

Thompson believes there is little need to make the change, as a new ID number will not actually provide much in the way of benefits; instead it will just add to operational costs.

Thompson suggested, “The AHA recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revise the final rule to prohibit use of the HPID/OEID within a HIPAA transaction.” He believes the use of a HPID is worthwhile, especially to help health plans implement the certification program for compliance and also ensure adherence to operating rules for HIPAA transactions.

Although HPID use is not required until the fall of next year, the CMS has recommended that healthcare providers start using the new system no later than December this year.

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of NetSec.news