(1) In general.—If a person desires to conduct a transaction referred to in section 1173(a)(1) with a health plan as a standard transaction—
(A) the health plan may not refuse to conduct such transaction as a standard transaction;
(B) the insurance plan may not delay such transaction, or otherwise adversely affect, or attempt to adversely affect, the person or the transaction on the ground that the transaction is a standard transaction; and
(C) the information transmitted and received in connection with the transaction shall be in the form of standard data elements of health information.
(2) Satisfaction of requirements.—A health plan may satisfy the requirements under paragraph (1) by—
(A) directly transmitting and receiving standard data elements of health information; or
(B) submitting nonstandard data elements to a health care clearinghouse for processing into standard data elements and transmission by the health care clearinghouse, and receiving standard data elements through the health care clearinghouse.
(3) Timetable for compliance.—Paragraph (1) shall not be construed to require a health plan to comply with any standard, implementation specification, or modification to a standard or specification adopted or established by the Secretary under sections 1172 through 1174 at any time prior to the date on which the plan is required to comply with the standard or specification under subsection (b).
(b) Compliance with Standards.—
(1) Initial compliance.—
(A) In general.—Not later than 24 months after the date on which an initial standard or implementation specification is adopted or established under sections 1172 and 1173, each person to whom the standard or implementation specification applies shall comply with the standard or specification.
(B) Special rule for small health plans.—In the case of a small health plan, paragraph (1) shall be applied by substituting “36 months” for “24 months”. For purposes of this subsection, the Secretary shall determine the plans that qualify as small health plans.
(2) Compliance with modified standards.—If the Secretary adopts a modification to a standard or implementation specification under this part, each person to whom the standard or implementation specification applies shall comply with the modified standard or implementation specification at such time as the Secretary determines appropriate, taking into account the time needed to comply due to the nature and extent of the modification. The time determined appropriate under the preceding sentence may not be earlier than the last day of the 180-day period beginning on the date such modification is adopted. The Secretary may extend the time for compliance for small health plans, if the Secretary determines that such extension is appropriate.
(3) Construction.—Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit any person from complying with a standard or specification by—
(A) submitting nonstandard data elements to a health care clearinghouse for processing into standard data elements and transmission by the health care clearinghouse; or
(B) receiving standard data elements through a health care clearinghouse.