CMS extends deadline for use of new NPIs

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Acknowledging that too few doctors and payers were ready to start using the unique National Provider Identifier (NPI) on all electronic claims by last May's deadline, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has offered a reprieve: It will give doctors, payers, and others until May 2008 to stop using all older ID numbers and switch to the NPIs to process claims without penalty, as long as insurers adopt "appropriate contingency plans for moving to an NPI-only system."

The year-long reprieve doesn't get physicians off the hook, warns American Medical News (4/23-30/2007). If the public health program, private insurance company, and Medicare and Medicare carriers you bill require physicians to only use NPIs for electronic claims, you must do so in order to get paid. In some cases, you may be required to use your NPI and older ID numbers on claim forms-until a payer is able to shift to an NPI-only system.

There are three ways to get your NPI: apply online at http://www.nppes.cms.hhs.gov/; call the NPI enumerator toll free at (800) 465-3203 to request a paper application; or, for large medical practices, give permission to a CMS-approved electronic file interchange organization to obtain an NPI for you.

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