CMS/Medicare offers contingency plan for October deadline

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) this week said that it will accept noncompliant electronic transactions after the upcoming Oct. 16 compliance deadline.

The plan will ensure continued processing of claims from healthcare providers who will not meet next month's deadline and would have had their Medicare claims rejected.

CMS Administrator Tom Scully said the contingency plan moves the agency toward privacy and security compliance, as mandated by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and does not disrupt providers' cash flow and operations.

CMS said it was prompted to develop the backup plan after statistics indicated what the agency described as "unacceptably low numbers" of HIPAA-compliant claims being submitted.

Under the plan, CMS will continue to accept and process claims in electronic formats now in use, giving providers additional time to complete the testing process. CMS says it will continue to assess healthcare providers' progress in order to determine how long to keep the contingency plan in effect.