CMS floats 'healthcare attachments' transactions rule to save $454M a year in administrative costs

CMS has proposed a rule that could save a projected $454 million a year in administrative costs by adopting standards for "healthcare attachments" transactions, such as medical charts, X-rays and provider notes that document physician referrals and office or telemedicine visits.

The proposed modifications to HIPAA transactions would support healthcare claims and prior authorization proceedings, standards for electronic signatures used with healthcare attachments transactions and update the standard for the referral certification and authorization transaction, according to the agency.

"Healthcare providers are often forced to use manual processes such as mail, fax or internet web portals when they respond to requests from health plans, leading to delays and less time for patient care," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a Dec. 19 news release. "These important steps would promote more consistent and reliable communications among the partners involved in healthcare transactions, improving the care experience for all."

If finalized, CMS said the rule would make it easier to submit and adjudicate healthcare claims by providing standardized electronic data to payers. 

It would also modify the standard for the referral certification and authorization transaction, which would reduce potential barriers to implementing value-based payments and eradicate "unnecessary administrative costs and burdens on providers and health plans," according to the agency.

The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule, which can be reviewed here, is March 22. 

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