Monday August 21 was the 10th anniversary of the day that President Bill Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The centerpiece of the legislation was a set of changes to ERISA and the Public Health Service Act to improve the portability of employer sponsored health insurance coverage through certificates of creditable coverage and other tools.
HIPAA also included a set of "Administrative Simplification" provisions requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("HHS") to issue various transaction and code set standards and national identifiers in order to facilitate the electronic transmission of health plan claims and related transactions such as explanations of benefits and eligibility inquiries. The duty also fell to HHS to issue privacy and security rules. Needless to say a cottage industry (of which I am a part) grew up around these Administrative Simplification provisions, and ten years later HHS is still not done issuing the all of the required standards, such as the MIA claims attachment standard, and national identifiers, such as the MIA health plan identifier. Before HHS's initial HIPAA work is done, the government has moved onto the brave new world of interoperable electronic medical records and personal health records. Modernhealthcare.com recently featured an interesting retrospective on this law.