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Letters: DEA number

January 16, 2012

I certainly concur with Dr. Jim Slattery’s remarks regarding DEA fees ("Letters," Nov. 7 ADA News).

I had dropped my DEA registration in 2004 because I almost never wrote prescriptions for any controlled drugs. However, I was forced to "re-enlist" after my application to a PPO plan was denied because I didn’t have a DEA number. The reinstatement, which began in February 2011 and expires in September 2013, cost me $551! This exorbitant "tax" to satisfy the insurance plan won’t change my prescription writing and is just a waste of my time and money.

James A. Ferguson, D.D.S.

Editor’s note: According to its website, the Drug Enforcement Administration "strongly opposes the use of a DEA registration number for any purpose other than the one for which it was intended, to provide certification of DEA registration in transactions involving controlled substances."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed a National Provider Identification number unique to each health care provider that should be used for this purpose. "The use of DEA registration numbers as an identification number is not an appropriate use and could lead to a weakening of the registration system," the DEA’s website states. "Although DEA has repeatedly made its position known to industries such as insurance providers and pharmacy benefit managers, there is currently no legal basis for DEA to prevent or preclude companies from requiring or requesting a practitioner’s DEA registration number."

The ADA adopted policy on this issue in 2000, which urged the Association to take steps to assure that unauthorized and nondiscretionary use by the insurance industry and other entities regarding the DEA number "cease as promptly as prudence and reality permit," and that insurance providers voluntarily switch to a more appropriate method of identifying health providers.

The implementation of the NPI meets that expectation. However, use of the NPI is only required for HIPAA-covered entities.