CMS moves to clarify NPI process
WASHINGTON - CMS began releasing more details on the National Provider Identification (NPI) process in January and February with two documents on how providers with multiple locations should apply for the 10-digit numbers.
The first document notified providers that they must obtain unique NPI numbers for each of their "subparts" or locations. Providers must begin using NPI numbers to identify themselves as healthcare providers on or before May 23, 2007.
The second document notified providers that they may use "bulk enumeration" to apply for multiple NPI numbers. Bulk enumeration is an electronic file sharing process that allows providers to apply for more than one NPI number at a time.
CMS has made mention of subparts and bulk enumeration before, but the agency hadn't yet detailed the information in "black and white," said Asela Cuervo, an industry attorney.
"It has been confusing for some providers," she said. "They're explaining things, now, in a lot more detail."
Providers still need to wait before using bulk enumeration, though. While the document outlines the steps that must be taken, the process isn't physically available yet. Cuervo advises larger providers to wait until it is--probably later this spring.
"If you have a lot of branches, it's best to centralize the process," she said.
The two documents haven't driven out all confusion, however. Providers wonder how smoothly the NPI process will work with some entities using NPI numbers and others still in transition. (Some payers began accepting NPI numbers accompanied by an existing Medicare number Jan. 3, 2006.)
They also wonder how the NPI process will dovetail, if at all, with the National Suppliers Clearinghouse (See HME News, October 2005).