New NCPDP Standards Up for CMS Approval

Expect Approval in 2018 or Early 2019 and Deadline for Implementation Before or During 2021

In the next couple of years, the versions of the NCPDP standards used for online claims adjudication and electronic prescriptions will be changing.  Under HIPAA, CMS has the authority to name the specific version of these two standards for use across the industry.  The version currently in use for adjudication is NCPDP Telecommunications Standard D.0, mandatory since January 1, 2012, and the version currently in use for e-prescribing is NCPDP SCRIPT Standard 10.6, mandatory since November 1, 2013.

NCPDP membership started the process to request that CMS create a new rule naming a current version of each standard for use throughout the industry.  The process has progressed further for the SCRIPT Standard for e-prescribing.  On November 28, 2017, CMS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register recommending the adoption of SCRIPT Version 2017071 to become effective on January 1, 2019, at which time SCRIPT Version 10.6 would be retired.  The industry is strongly in favor of moving to the new version, but many consider the proposed deadline to be too aggressive.  During the comment period, parties, such as Surescripts, expressed concern that the January 1, 2019 deadline does not allow participants enough time to develop new software code, test the code internally and with business partners, and implement the software in thousands of practice sites.  Most commenters recommend a deadline that is 24 months from the effective date of the final rule mandating a new version of the SCRIPT Standard.  The industry is waiting for CMS to respond to industry comments and publish the final rule.

The process for naming a new version of the Telecommunications Standard is moving much slower.  At its November 2017 Work Group Meetings, NCPDP membership approved a request proposing Telecommunications Standard F2 to be the next named standard.  NCPDP submits the request via the DSMO (Designated Standard Maintenance Organizations), which forwards the request to the NCVHS (National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics) to send to CMS.  The industry is waiting for NCVHS to hold the appropriate hearing, which is scheduled for 3/26/2018.  If the hearings result in the recommendation to adopt F2, NCVHS will send a letter to the Secretary of HHS, which could lead to CMS publishing a new proposed rule naming F2 as the new standard.  When that event occurs, the industry can offer comments prior to CMS finalizing the rule.  The process to adopt Telecommunications Standard F2 is at least six months behind the process to adopt SCRIPT Standard 2017071, which means the earliest F2 could be adopted is July 2019.

However, it is difficult to predict how long these final approval processes will take.  The industry should expect final approval sometime in 2018 or early 2019.  These developments mean the new standards could be mandatory by 2021.  Pharmacy system vendors, EMR/e-prescribing software vendors, and claims processors should be preparing for these changes.  NCPDP members have access to the documentation created by membership for both SCRIPT and Telecommunications Standards, allowing for preparation to begin now.

Even though each standard will likely follow their own timeline, the possibility exists that individual development, testing and implementation of the changes to the two standards will overlap.  Vendors will need to size up each change and make sure to allocate the proper resources to meet the deadlines CMS will define in the final rules. PHSI will provide an update once CMS acts and publishes the final rules.

 

 

Update on New Standard Versions May 2018

In the final rule issued in April 2018, CMS officially adopted the NCPDP SCRIPT Standard Version 2017071 beginning on January 1, 2020 to replace the prior version 10.6.  It is interesting that CMS established January 1, 2020 as the implementation due date, a mere 20 months from the issuance of the final rule. Typically, the industry asks for 30 to 36 months to implement a new version of a standard.  This rule feels like CMS is saying to the industry that that is not good enough and to find a faster way to implement the new version.  Come Summer of 2019, it will be interesting to see how many vendors come forward asking for an extension of the deadline and the CMS response to such a request will be equally interesting.

There is also movement toward a new version of the Telecommunication Standard.  On May 17th, NCVHS recommended the adoption of Version F2.  NCVHS asked the Secretary of HHS to expedite the rulemaking as feasible, but to also be sure to allow the industry sufficient time to comply.  Specifically, the committee asked HHS:

  • To the extent possible, publish the final rule by the end of 2019.
  • To provide a two year implementation timeline, using June as the compliance month.
  • To require that the updated version of the standard be used by the compliance date, but allow both versions of the standards to be used for a one-year period after the compliance date to enable an effective transition period that allows the use of version D.0 and the new version F2.
  • To require full compliance by the end of the third year, and only allow use of Version F2.

The Committee also asked that industry, specifically the Medicare and Medicaid programs, be given sufficient time and encouragement for thorough end-to-end testing before any go-live date.

The industry now awaits the proposed and final rule from CMS. There are probably many software vendors that are hoping the approval of a new telecommunications standard will be delayed so it doesn’t coincide with the new e-prescribing standard. The NCVHS recommendation to use June as the compliance month instead of January 1st is a step in the right direction.  There are also rumblings that telecommunications standard version F2 is already obsolete and that during the comment period after the new proposed rulemaking is published, the industry should push for a move to a newer version that includes some recently required attributes.

See more information from the NCVHS letter to the HHS Secretary via this link: https://ncvhs.hhs.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Letter-to-Secretary-NCVHS-Recommendations-on-NCPDP-Pharmacy-Standards-Update.pdf

Stay tuned for more information about this and the expected new proposed rulemaking with approval of the telecommunications standard.

 

 

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