HHS Issues Final Interim 'Red Tape' Rule

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 1, 2011

The federal government Thursday issued a final interim "Red Tape" rule requiring health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and certain healthcare providers to follow certain rules for electronic transactions designed to eliminate manual processes. 

The rule is expected to save an estimated $12 billion over the next 10 years from improved electronic systems.

"Doctors and health insurance companies waste thousands of hours and billions of dollars filling out forms and processing paperwork," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a prepared statement. "The Affordable Care Act is helping doctors operate more efficiently and spend their time treating patients, not filing out papers."

Added Donald Berwick, MD, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, "as a pediatrician, I know how frustrating it can be to spend time dealing with paperwork instead of patient care. "These rules will help healthcare professionals operate more efficiently, lowering their costs and reducing hassle for consumers."

The interim rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2013, is designed to make it easier for providers to determine whether a patient is eligible for coverage, and the status of a provider's claim for reimbursement to a health insurer because it will standardize the type of information and transmission formats for all providers and insurers.

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