Since March 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been quietly preparing for and consulting stakeholders about a change in how it identifies Medicare patients. Starting in April 2018, CMS plans to begin issuing new identification cards to the roughly 60 million Medicare beneficiaries. CMS will replace the current ID numbers on those cards, which include Social Security numbers, with an 11-digit alpha-numeric code. CMS is implementing the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) pursuant to a provision of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Under that law, Congress required CMS to remove the Social Security number from Medicare cards in order to prevent medical identity theft. In addition, it gave the agency the option to replace the current identification number with a new code. This shift is expected to have a significant impact on the industry, said Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), in an interview with Medscape Medical News. The ramifications for physician practices include the need to upgrade to new practice management software, the need to make sure that Medicare beneficiaries are aware of the new cards, and issues involving secondary insurance, he pointed out.