It looks like most players in health care — IT vendors excluded — will get what they want if a bill delaying the deadline for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's electronic claims standards becomes law. At press time, the bill had passed both houses of Congress and was in a conference committee.
Under the original legislation, physicians, hospitals, and health plans had until Oct. 16 to comply with provisions that require electronic filing of most claims using standardized data.
Some health plans, physicians, and state Medicaid officers complained loud and long that the deadline — and sometimes, money — was too short to expect compliance on time. HIPAA comes with strong financial penalties for violations.
The Senate, in late November, passed a one-year extension of the deadline. But when hospitals complained that they had been working hard to meet the deadline and were eager to reap HIPAA's promised savings, the House modified the legislation before passing it Dec. 13.
The House version allows those who are ready to begin using the standardized data sets. Those who need another year could apply for an extension, but only if they can submit a detailed compliance plan.