The scramble for group health plan administrators to navigate the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website and obtain a Health Plan Identifier (HPID) ahead of next week’s deadline is over.  On October 31, 2014, the CMS Office of e-Health Standards and Services (OESS), the division of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that is responsible for enforcement of the HIPAA standard transaction requirements, announced a “delay, until further notice,” of the HPID requirements.  The regulatory obligations of plan administrators delayed by this notice are the: (i) obtaining of a HPID, and (ii) the use of the HPID in HIPAA transactions.

This delay comes on the heels of a recommendation by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), an advisory body to HHS.  The NCVHS asked HHS to review the HPID requirement and recommended that HPIDs not be used in HIPAA transactions.  NCVHS’s primary opposing argument to implementation of the HPID standard was that the healthcare industry has already adopted a “standardized national payer identifier based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) identifier.”

Whether HHS will adopt the recommendations of the NCVHS on a permanent basis remains to be seen, but for the time being, plan administrators may discontinue the HPID application process and should stay tuned for further announcements from HHS.