Comment: The majority of commenters cited that Y2K initiatives will clash with implementing the HIPAA standards. It was recommended that the implementation date should be delayed until after the year 2000.
Several commenters stated that a 2-year implementation time frame may be inadequate to coordinate new system designs with other health plans and to modify existing systems and contracts. There was concern that the industry cannot convert to the new standards within 2 years.
Several commenters recommended that all health plans have the same time frame with which to comply with the standards of this rule. They noted that a health care provider has no knowledge of whether a health plan is a small or large health plan. It would be very inefficient for a health care provider to maintain two systems for an additional year.
The majority of those who commented on the publication of the final rule recommended that the rules be published in a staggered fashion, specifically the identifiers first, then the transactions. Some also wanted the attachment and security regulations published at the same time the transaction regulation is published. Some commenters also wanted the effective dates for each standard transaction to be staggered. Several commenters recommended publishing an interim final rule allowing for additional comments.
Several commenters generally supported the WEDI recommendation that health care providers not be required by health plans to use any of the standards during the first year after adoption of the standards, and that willing trading partners could implement any or all of the standards by mutual agreement at any time during the 2 year implementation phase (3 years for small health plans). WEDI also recommended that health care providers be given at least 6 months’ notice by a health plan before requiring health care providers to implement the standards.
Response: Section 1175 of the Act dictates that the standards are to be implemented no later than 24 months after adoption (36 months for small health plans).
In the interest of a smooth transition, we encourage health plans not to require health care providers to use the standards specified in subparts K through R during the first year after the effective date of the transactions final rule, although willing trading partners could do so by mutual agreement during that time. We also encourage health plans to give health care providers at least 6 months notice before requiring health care providers to implement a standard transaction. For example, if the effective date of the rule is 8/1/2000 and trading partners have agreed not to implement during the first year, the first implementation date could be 8/1/2001 and health care providers should be notified by 2/1/2001.