In an earlier post, I commented on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interim final rule adopting electronic funds transfer (EFT) standards, which was released in January 2012. In the post, I outlined the following changes needed in order for the new rule to truly improve efficiency and deliver cost savings for health care payers and their provider networks:
1. Add a Trace Number Requirement
The rule should require that the EFT and the electronic remittance advice (ERA) have a trace number. By including a trace number, payers can deliver ERA/EFT efficiently and providers can re-associate the ERA/EFT and reconcile their payments efficiently.
2. Remove the CTX File
The CTX file should not be included in the rule as a method for payer-to-provider EFT payments because the file creates high costs and data processing risks. The rule should mandate that payers use only the CCD+ file to deliver EFT payments.
Well, as they say, “If you don’t ask the question, the answer is always ‘no.’”
On Aug. 10, HHS released a new version of the interim final rule with updates, including the changes noted above. I’m thrilled to see that these changes were made, which align with the CAQH CORE Operating Rules, because now the rule can truly improve administrative efficiency for payers and providers.
With the requirements for the CCD+ file and trace number included in the rule, both payers and providers are better positioned to reduce their administrative costs. Here’s what the new rule means for you:
For Healthcare Payers
Reduce Costs to Meet Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Mandate:
The rule mandates that payers delivering EFT payments to providers must use the CCD+ file format. This allows payers to efficiently and securely include the trace number, which enables providers to re-associate the ERA with the EFT and reconcile their payments efficiently.
Reduce Provider Call Volume: