HIMSS News

CMS Offers Timeline to New Medicare Billing identifier

March 11, 2016


Last Year, President Obama signed into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015, which mandates the removal of Social Security Number-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) from Medicare cards.  The intent of the law was to alleviate the risk of beneficiary identity theft.

In terms of timeline and implementation, in 2018, CMS will be generating new Medicare billing identifiers (MBI) for all Medicare beneficiaries, both living and deceased (archived).  New Medicare cards will start being distributed by April 2018; the MBI will replace the HICN on Medicare cards and gender and signature will be removed from the Medicare cards.  At such time, all systems and business processes will need to be able to accept and process transactions using the new MBI by April 2018.  It is currently estimated that over 60 million Medicare cards with the MBI will be distributed to beneficiaries between April 2018 and April 2019.

Further, CMS will have a transition period where both HICN and MBI may be exchanged with CMS.  The transition period is currently planned to begin in April 2018 and end on December 31, 2019.  After this transition period, CMS will no longer accept the HICN, but with certain limited exceptions.  Further, in communicating with CMS, the MBI must be used instead of the HICN in communications and data exchanges with CMS after the period of transition.

Consistent with the intent of the legislation to help prevent beneficiary identity theft, it is anticipated that CMS will not provide the MBI to the provider.  Rather, healthcare providers will need to obtain the MBI from their patients.

Finally, there will be no Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the removal of SSNs from Medicare beneficiary cards.  Instead, CMS will be holding a series of listening sessions.  Any additional information or feedback about the Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI) may be sent via e-mail to CMS at SSNRI@cms.hhs.gov.

Posted Under: Policy Center, Government Agency