BCBS Association Expects Legislation to Delay HIPAA Rules
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said yesterday that it "expects members of Congress to introduce legislation in the next two weeks" that would delay the implementation of the simplification regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, CongressDaily reports. Joined by the American Medical Association and the American Public Human Services Association, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said at a press conference that the regulations were "costly and burdensome," and that it is asking HHS to "delay the regulations until two years" after all HIPAA rules have been published, which could be 2004 (Fulton, CongressDaily, 4/19). Under HIPAA, providers and insurers must take several measures to protect the privacy of electronic patient records and they must give individuals the right to review their medical records and know who else has had access to them. In addition, anyone holding or transmitting medical information must employ a standard format for claim forms, medical records and laboratory reports.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association spokesperson Alyssa Fox said, "If we don't get this extension, there will be massive disruptions in payments to providers." She added that putting all the HIPAA regulations in place at the same time was "a smart[er] way to spend health care dollars" than implementing them incrementally, which could force providers and insurers to "update their systems several times." According to an association-commissioned study, "most" hospitals nationwide "had not yet budgeted for upgrading their systems to reflect the new" payment codes, as required under HIPAA. The study also said that the average implementation cost for a health plan will be $10 million, $9 million higher than estimated by HHS (CongressDaily, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.