CMS Issues Alert Regarding Change in Reporting SSNs/HICNs Pursuant to the SMART Act

Just yesterday, September 10, 2014, CMS issued an alert which modifies the requirements relating to the reporting of HICNs and SSNs by NGHP RREs. The alert can be found here.

Pursuant to the SMART Act, CMS was required to do the following: “not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this bill, the Secretary of HHS shall permit but not require to access or report the beneficiary’s social security account numbers or health identification claim numbers.”

As a result, CMS has issued this alert which provides that effective January 5, 2015, where an NGHP RRE cannot obtain an individual’s HICN or full SSN, RREs may report the following data elements that will enable CMS to properly identify a Medicare beneficiary: 1) last five digits of SSN, 2) first initial, 3) surname, 4) date of birth, and 5) gender.

If NGHP RREs are unable to obtain or do not provide the HICN, full SSN, or any of the above listed data elements, they must document their attempts to obtain this information (RREs may use the model language provided by CMS located in the Downloads section of the MIR for NGHP page at http://go.cms.gov/mirnghp).

CMS states within the alert that a subsequent alert will be published prior to the January 5, 2015 implementation, which will include additional instructions for entry of the partial SSN into the Claim Input File or Query Input File.

While Helios Settlement Solutions applauds CMS for taking action on this requirement of the SMART Act, some questions remain:

1) Within the alert, CMS states that they currently highly recommend, but do not require, that NGHP RREs submit the HICN or full SSN as part of their reports. However, CMS does currently require the HICN/full SSN to obtain a match in their system when reporting, so this statement seems to contradict current requirements. We assume that this is a scrivener error and that CMS meant to say that full SSNs/HICNs will be recommended but not required come January 5, 2015.

2) While it is helpful that an RRE will no longer have to obtain a full SSN come January 5, 2015, it is unclear that if a claimant is unwilling to provide a full SSN, whether they would then be willing to still provide the last 5 digits of the SSN. On a good note, however, and as mentioned above, if the RRE still cannot obtain the last 5 digits of the SSN, the RRE can document its attempts to obtain this information.

Helios will keep our subscribers updated on any additional developments. For questions, please contact asktheexperts@medicareinsights.com.

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