Weekend update

On Friday, the President signed the bill (HR 4851) which extends the COBRA / TCC subsidy program and the moratorium on the 21.2% cut in Medicare Part B reimbursement to doctors retroactively from April 1 through May 31. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that the agency “has instructed Medicare contractors to begin processing claims under the new law for services provided by physicians, non-physician practitioners (NPPs) and others paid under the MPFS. Most claims with dates of service April 1 and later were held by Medicare in anticipation of congressional action.”

Government Health IT reported that an HHS panel will report on April 21 a “trust fabric” for use in securing protected health information flowing through the National Health Information Network, a patient locator system for electronic health records.

Looking at the flip side of that coin, the HHS Office for Civil Rights which enforces the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, announced on April 13 how the agency will use information that it receives about breaches of unsecured protected health information. Under the HITECH Act, HIPAA covered entities must report such breaches to OCR. OCR explained that it will store that data in its Program Information Management System
and may disclose that  information to conduct investigations, to provide technical guidance to covered entities and to inform the public. OCR is accepting comments on this policy change for 40 days from March 30, 2010.

Earlier this month, the FEHBlog noted the Council for Affordable Healthcare Quality’s private sector efforts to streamline and improve the HIPAA electronic claims and related transactions processes.  On Friday, CAQH announced that

twenty health plans, clearinghouses, providers and health information technology vendors have achieved or will certify their implementation of the CAQH Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange®

This accomplishment is the result of the widespread voluntary adoption of business rules being developed by CORE. The CORE rules are streamlining the exchange of administrative data, which is resulting in improved access to coverage and financial information by providers at the point-of-care. Certified organizations complete a testing process to confirm that their systems or products comply with both the CORE infrastructure and data content rules. The Phase II rules address requirements for electronic connectivity and digital certificates, patient identification, real-time claims status and reporting of year-to-date deductibles. Each phase is designed to build upon earlier phases and is aligned with Federal interoperability efforts.

Well done.