American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Consumers

FEDERAL | ASPS asks CMS to delay Social Security Number Removal Initiative

ASPS joined the AMA and many state and specialty societies in sending an urgent letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seeking a more structured, standardized process in the Agency's plan to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. By January, 2020, the Agency will no longer provide medical practices with access to a Medicare look-up tool to verify eligibility. Instead, the Agency will rely on the patient or family members to present an updated Medicare card to their healthcare provider.

With a project timeline that begins in just six months, the new Medicare Beneficiary ID number will include seven numeric and four alphabetical characters and will replace the social security number, which has been used by over 150 million Medicare recipients to date. While the change was implemented to address identity theft concerns, the phased roll-out, as well as the lack of organized outreach and education, will limit the success patients and providers will have in obtaining updated identification information. The Social Security Number Removal Initiative conversion will also require changes to practice management and claims submission software before the end of 2018. For these reasons, the letter urged CMS to adjust the implementation timeline, increase education, allow for public feedback and consider alternative mechanisms for verifying eligibility.