CMS: Health-care providers must use single identifier

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has chosen the National Provider Identifier as the standard ID for filing and processing all health care claims and other transactions.

A single identifying number that will not change over time is the latest step in implementing the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Unique IDs will be issued to providers through the National Provider System that CMS is developing. It will replace all legacy identifiers, CMS said.

The identifier should reduce costs and simplify administration of Medicare and Medicaid and the nation's health system by eliminating the multiple identification numbers assigned to providers by various health plans. Providers who transmit any transactions electronically must obtain an identifier by May 23, 2007.

To advance HIPAA, CMS has already adopted standards for electronic transactions and code sets, privacy and security of personal health information, and unique health identifiers for employers. The centers' next step is to choose unique identifiers for health plans and claims attachment transactions.

The final rule, published in today's Federal Register, takes effect May 23, 2005.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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