The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has kept the Web glowing by releasing another batch of major regulations.
HHS put an item on the to-do list of every U.S. health plan by issuing a final rule that will create a national unique health plan identifier (HPID) number and set the requirements for implementing the HPID system.
HHS also created a data element that will serve as an “other entity identifier” (OEID) that will help the plans, health care providers and others keep track of entities that need to be identified in standard health care transactions and are not plans, providers or patients.
HHS went on to ease the terror some health care organization executives and information technology (IT) managers have been experiencing by pushing the compliace date for a shift to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM), from the current standard, ICD-9, to Oct. 1, 2014, from Oct. 1, 2013.
Health insurers and many health care providers have generally supported the idea of moving to the ICD-10 system, to replace a diagnosis code system based on work done in the 1970s. Policymakers say the coding system shift should make claims much more modern and precise, help plans identify waste and fraud, and help wellness analysts, disease management program analysts, researchers and others make better use of claims data.
But health care provider IT executives and physician professional societies have argued that the shift will take a massive amount of work and is much to difficult and costly of a job to undertake at a time when the health care system already is struggling to comply with many complicated new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provisions.
The department has been working on the ICD shift to implement provisions in earlier laws.
HHS posted a 208-page preliminary version of the HPID and ICD-10 final rule on the Web today. The Federal Register expects to publish the final rule Sept. 5.
Earlier this week, HHS published a final rule on the requirements for Stage 2 of the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program — a program that’s supposed to reward hospitals and physicians that participate in Medicaid and Medicare for making meaningful use of electronic health recrds (EHR) systems, and it also has announced distribution of 8 PPACA health insurance exchange construction grant awards.
The releases of those documents came on the heels of HHS releasing a final description of the PPACA exchange application process.
The HPID System
The HPID system project is part of a project that federal agencies, health insurers and health care provider groups have been working on for years.
Congress included provisions that led HHS to create an employer ID number system and a “National Provider Identifier” (NPI) number in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Provider groups and others have complained that health plans still use many different kinds of conflicting ID numbers, such as taxpayer identification numbers, employer identification numbers (EINs) and proprietary codes.
PPACA Section 1104(c)(1) called for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to bring order to the chaos by coming up with a standardized HPID system by Oct. 1, 2012. Sebelius was supposed to base the system on recommendations from the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS).
The HPID number will be a 10-digit, all-numeric identifier with a Luhn check-digit as the 10th digit, according to the version of the final rule now up on the Web. The check digit is a number that can be used to verify whether the card number appears to be correct, officials say.