NPI Numbers

All health care providers, including speech-language pathologists and audiologists, may begin applying for a National Provider Identifier (NPI), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced.

The NPI is the health care provider identification system adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

All health care providers that are considered covered entities under HIPAA, those who file claims electronically or use a clearinghouse to bill insurance, are required to apply for an NPI.

All other health care providers are eligible to receive an NPI if they desire.

The NPI will eliminate the need for health care providers to use different identification numbers when conducting business with multiple health plans.

Many health plans-including Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance plans-and all health care clearinghouses will be required to accept and use NPIs by May 23, 2007.

In a letter posted on its Web site, CMS outlines the three ways providers can obtain an NPI and what to do once they receive it. Additional information on the National Provider Identifier can be found on the Medlearn page of the CMS Web site.

Information on the NPI or HIPAA also is available from Ingrida Lusis, director of Health Care Regulatory Advocacy at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).


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