Providers clamor for answers

Monday, April 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - In the final weeks leading up to the May 23 start of the National Provider Identification number system, providers continued to clamor for a central directory of providers. They also wondered about backup plans if the transition doesn't go smoothly.
There was no one on hand at a CMS March 14 Open Door Forum to answer NPI-related questions.
That didn't stop several callers from trying to get answers, leading a CMS official to reiterate: "I am not the NPI expert. I would not know that since I am not focused on the NPI."
The No. 1 question remains: Will there be a national directory of numbers for providers to access?
"The opinion is there would be a national database; however, CMS would not be maintaining it," said Kim Brummett, who sits on the National Uniform Claims Committee that oversees the NPI numbers. "(But) I don't know who else would."
Many HME providers have said they have difficulty obtaining NPIs from referral sources (See HME News, March 2007). As of early April, 1.9 million providers had their NPI, with another 400,000 still unregistered.
Confidence in the program probably wasn't helped by a March 9 bulletin regarding form CMS-1500, which was revised last July for use with NPIs. The bulletin announced that incorrectly formatted versions of the from are being sold by print vendors, "specifically, the Government Printing Office." Due to the error, CMS said it would continue to accept the original version of the form beyond the April 1, 2007 deadline, possibly until June 1. As of early April, however, there had been no extension of the May 23 implementation date of the NPI program.