Latest Reform Bill Would Revise HIPAA Standards, Track Medical Devices


On Thursday, House Democratic leaders unveiled a merged health care reform bill (HR 3962) that includes provisions to streamline HIPAA transaction standards and track medical devices electronically, Health Data Management reports (Goedert, Health Data Management, 10/29).

Democratic lawmakers say the legislation could reach floor debate sometime next week (Pear/Herszenhorn, New York Times, 10/30).

The major provisions of the $894 billion package would:

  • Create a public health insurance option;
  • Enact stricter regulations on insurance companies;
  • Expand eligibility for Medicaid;
  • Require large employers to provide health benefits;
  • Require most residents to purchase insurance coverage; and
  • Subsidize health plans for low- and middle-income residents (Murray/Montgomery, Washington Post, 10/30).

HIPAA Transactions

The latest House bill also includes a provision to establish national standards for electronic claims submission and other HIPAA transactions.

The provision calls for officials to develop data exchange capabilities that can:

  • Determine a patient's financial responsibility at the point of service;
  • Enable real-time claims adjudication;
  • Harmonize data sets from administrative and clinical transactions; and
  • Support machine-readable identification cards.

The bill would require the federal government to implement and enforce the stricter HIPAA transaction rules within five years. It also calls for HHS to issue interim guides and operating rules for the new standards (Health Data Management, 10/29).

Medical Device Tracking

The House bill also includes a provision that would require FDA to implement a unique device identification system for medical devices.

The UDI system would allow FDA officials to electronically track medical tools and promptly recall any devices that could jeopardize patient safety.

The bill would require FDA to issue UDI regulations within six months after the enactment of the bill (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 10/30).

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