Getting HIPAA Deadline Extension Is Easy, but Deadline Is Oct. 15
Physicians across the country are in “delay” mode on filing for an extension to comply with the transactions and code sets standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Practices must comply with the standards as of Oct. 16, 2002, unless an extension has been requested. “We're estimating that less than 10 percent of providers who may need the extension have applied for it,” says Karen Trudel, director of HIPAA outreach at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). If your practice will not be in compliance on Oct. 16, file for your one-year extension today. Go online towww.cms.hhs.gov/hipaa/hipaa2/ascaform.asp and follow the instructions to submit the Electronic Health Care Transactions and Code Sets Standards Model Compliance Plan. It covers topics such as the financial impact of compliance on your practice and whether you have a work plan and timeline for compliance. Trudel says some physicians have expressed concern they might be penalized if the estimates they gave CMS were to change in the future. “Providers think the information has to be absolutely perfect, and so they are waiting,” says Trudel. “In reality, the information they provide on this form was always intended to be a snapshot in time.” With the Oct.15 filing deadline so close, Trudel strongly encourages physicians to file the form electronically. Fill in the information online and press the submit button. When the confirmation message appears on the screen, your extension is complete.
Congress to Decide Title VII Budget for Fiscal Year 2003
Congressional leaders are determined to stay within budget limits during the economic slump and, at the same time, must allot funds for new initiatives such as homeland security. As a result, the federal program that supports training in family practice and other health professions—Title VII of the Public Health Service Act—may get shortchanged this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended only $160 million for all programs covered under Title VII in fiscal year 2003, which is a 46 percent decrease from the $295 million that was approved for fiscal year 2002. Of that $295 million, only $93 million went to the primary care cluster, including funds for training family physicians, general pediatricians, general internists, physician assistants, and dentists. Funding for individual programs in the projected fiscal year 2003 budget was not listed. At press time, the House Appropriations Committee was expected to vote on Title VII funds in late September. Most likely, a House-Senate conference committee will negotiate the differences between the appropriations bills this month, and the conference committee's recommendation will come to both chambers for a vote. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) is lobbying to increase the budget for Section 747 of Title VII to $169 million for fiscal year 2003, with $96 million of these appropriations going to family medicine programs.
Survey Results Demonstrate Need for Response Training to Bioterrorism
A survey conducted in October 2001 of 614 family physicians showed that 75 percent of physicians felt unprepared to recognize bioterrorism-related illnesses in their patients and that 38 percent rated their knowledge of the diagnosis and management of bioterrorism-related illnesses as poor. The survey, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the AAFP's National Network for Family Practice and Primary Care Research, also reported that family physicians felt more comfortable responding to natural disasters and public health emergencies, such as natural infectious disease outbreaks involving well-known pathogens, than to bioterror incidents. Approximately 18 percent of the family physicians surveyed reported having previous bioterrorism training, and these physicians were much more likely to report having the necessary skills and knowledge to respond to a bioterrorist attack. Earlier this year, HHS provided more than $1 billion in new grants to states and metropolitan areas to support training, communications, disease surveillance, and epidemiology networks as well as hospital improvements. The AAFP provides Web-based training resources for physicians atwww.aafp.org/btresponse. AHRQ is currently expanding the medical provider's bioterrorism training Web site,www.bioterrorism.uab.edu, to include courses for family physicians.
HRSA Awards $49.7 Million in Health Profession Grants
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the HHS recently awarded $49.7 million in grants to support training of health care professionals. Grants related to primary care include faculty development in primary care grants to help train physicians who plan to teach in family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics; residency training in primary care grants to support medical residency training programs that prepare graduates to enter primary care practice; predoctoral training in primary care grants to help medical schools meet the cost of projects to plan, develop, and operate or participate in approved predoctoral training programs; academic administrative units in primary care grants to establish or expand an academic unit in family medicine or develop a research infrastructure within an academic unit in family medicine; and physician assistant training in primary care grants to fund projects that support physician assistant training programs to reach underserved populations. Other grants include Centers of Excellence grants, Health Careers Opportunity Program grants, Quentin N. Burdick Program for Rural Interdisciplinary Training grants, Public Health Traineeship grants, and grants for Allied Health Special Projects. For a list of the grants by program, visit the HRSA Web site atnewsroom.hrsa.gov/NewsBriefs/2002/HPgrants.htm.