Standards for EFT Final, Start January 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the interim final rule with comment period (IFC) published in January, which proposes the adoption of standards for electronic funds transfer (EFT), as the final rule and effective January 2014.

On Jan. 10, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) published in the Federal Register CMS-0024-IFC, adopting standards for health care electronic funds transfers (EFT) and remittance advice transactions under the Health Insurance Portability and Affordability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.

HHS stated in the IFC that if it received comments compelling the agency to change any of the policies in the IFC, it would seek to finalize such changes to allow the industry sufficient time to prepare for compliance. “After careful review and consideration of over 50 comments we received during the 60-day public comment period, we have decided not to change any of the policies established in CMS-0024-IFC,” the agency said. CMS-0024-IFC is a final rule that is in effect now, which means industry implementation efforts should be underway for the Jan. 1, 2014 compliance date.

HHS has published a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) with regard to the health care EFT standards on the FAQ page on the CMS website. From the FAQ page, click on the topic HIPAA Administrative Simplification on the left side of the page, then click on the subtopic Affordable Care Act. Please keep checking this page for further guidance.

HIPAA-covered entities must comply with the provisions of CMS-0024-IFC by Jan. 1, 2014. There are no prohibitions, however, against using the health care EFT standards before that date. This is similar to the EFT standards adopted for payers earlier this year and detailed by AAPC in “Health Plans Must Comply with New EFT Transaction Standards.”

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