August 2003 AAOS Report

Letter responds to difficulties in complying with HIPAA

Representatives from more than 36 medical associations, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, have collaborated in writing a letter to DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson regarding issues and problems that are arising in connection with the upcoming deadline for compliance with the HIPAA Transaction and Code Sets (TCS) guidelines. The letter describes the emerging problems, sets forth the adverse consequences for the future delivery of timely health care if they are not addressed and outlines three contingency plans. The letter also suggests that DHHS clarify the TCS standards in eight areas by issuing directives to covered entities. One key recommendation is that the agency significantly expand its current educational outreach campaign to providers, including physicians.
CMS has since clarified its position. It will abide by the Oct. 16 HIPAA electronic transactions and code sets rule deadline but will be lenient for a short time with covered entities that have made "good-faith" efforts to comply. The agency said enforcement of the rule will be prompted by "individual complaints and pre-deadline readiness activities."

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