National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) Update

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  This legislation made many reforms to the American health care system and with it came many changes that will affect both health care providers and consumers alike.  One such change brought about by this legislation was the elimination of the independent Health Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB), and its merger with the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).  This will not affect the purpose of the federal government’s clearing house for disciplinary and malpractice information, but will forever change how the information is disseminated.

 To understand the changes, one must first know the history of the NPDB.  The NPDB was established by Title IV of Public Law 99-660, of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986.  Its purpose was to improve the quality of health care by encouraging State licensing boards, hospitals and other health care entities, and professional societies to identify and discipline those who engage in unprofessional behavior.  The NPDB has been expanded and revised a number of times, but its greatest expansion came on January 28, 2010, when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule implementing Section 1921 of the Social Security Act. 

Prior to this the NPDB dealt only with licensure and malpractice reports of physicians, dentists, and health care entities. This new regulation expanded the information collected and disseminated through the NPDB to include reports on all licensure actions taken against all health care practitioners.

Like the NPDB, the HIPDB was created to improve the quality of healthcare in America.  The HIPDB was formed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and  specifically focused on combating fraud and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery, and promoting quality care.  The HIPDB collected reports made by federal and state licensing agencies, federal and state prosecutors, and federal and state government agencies that had excluded a practitioner, provider or supplier from their health plan.

The NPDB and the HIPDB were created to provide a resource for state licensing boards, hospitals, and other health care entities to assist them in their investigations of the qualifications of the healthcare practitioners they sought to license or hire.  These two data banks served this purpose independently of each other until the passing of PPACA on March 23, 2010.

Section 6403 of PPACA requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to maintain a national health care fraud and abuse data collection program for reporting certain adverse actions taken against health care providers, suppliers, and practitioners, and to submit information on the actions to the NPDB.  Section 6403 further requires the Secretary to establish a process to terminate the HIPDB and ensure that the information formerly collected in the HIPDB is transferred to the NPDB.

What does this mean to you?  Specifically, the NPDB has now become one large, all encompassing central data bank for all reports made against all health care professionals, whether the report deals with fraud, abuse, licensure actions, or malpractice.  The HIPDB has been eliminated as an independent data bank and in its place the Secretary of Health and Human Services has implemented a process in which all fraud and abuse reports will be collected and transferred to the NPDB.  Additionally, all information that was previously held in the HIPDB has been transferred to the NPDB.

For more information about the National Practitioner Data Bank and how it might impact you and your practice, visit www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

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