As mentioned yesterday in this blog, CMS announced that it is implementing a contingency plan for covered entities (other than small health plans) who will not meet the May 23, 2007, deadline for compliance with the National Provider Identifier (NPI) regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. The final rule establishing the NPI as the standard unique health provider identifier for health care providers was published in 2004 and requires all covered entities to be in compliance with its provisions by May 23, 2007, except for small health plans, which must be in compliance by May 23, 2008.
CMS encourages health plans to assess the readiness of their provider communities to determine the need to implement contingency plans to maintain the flow of payments while continuing to work toward compliance. Likewise, CMS encourages health care providers that have not yet obtained NPIs to do so immediately, and to use their NPIs in HIPAA transactions as soon as possible. Applying for an NPI is fast, easy and free. Visit the NPPES Web site at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/ .
A critical aspect of implementing the NPI is the ability for covered entities to match a provider’s NPI with the many legacy provider identifiers that have been used to process administrative transactions. CMS plans to make data available from the NPPES system that will assist covered entities in developing these "crosswalks." To view this guidance, visit www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand/Downloads/NPI_Contingency.pdf . A press release on this topic also is available at www.cms.hhs.gov/apps/media/press_releases.asp .
As always, more information and education on the NPI can be found at the CMS NPI Web page at www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand . Getting an NPI is free – not having one can be costly.