The CMS on Friday will publish final regulations adopting a plan to assign unique identification codes for all providers to use in processing healthcare claims and other business transactions.
A system to handle the assignment of identifiers will be ready to accept applications after the effective date of the regulations in May 2005.
Unique identification codes were proposed in May 1998 as a requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, but other HIPAA provisions continually jumped ahead in priority and sidetracked work on the provider identifier.
The single identification number will replace multiple numbers assigned to doctors, medical businesses and hospitals by both private and government payers.
All providers except small health plans must apply for and use the unique IDs by May 23, 2007.
Small health plans have one extra year to comply.