More than 20 healthcare organizations continue to press for action to create national patient identifier.
Groups including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), sent a letter this week to chairs and ranking members of the House Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. They thank the committees for including in a fiscal 2017 funding bill language directing the Department of Health and Human Services to provide technical assistance to private-sector-led patient-matching initiatives.
Yet they ask that language from the Fiscal 2017 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill be retained when reconciling bills between the House and Senate, including:
“Although the Committee continues to carry a prohibition against HHS using funds to promulgate or adopt any final standard providing for the assignment of a unique health identifier ... the Committee notes that this limitation does not prohibit HHS from examining the issues around patient matching," the letter reads. "Accordingly, the Committee encourages the Secretary, acting through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and CMS, to provide technical assistance to private sector-led initiatives to develop a coordinated national strategy that will promote patient safety by accurately identifying patients to their health information.”
When Congress passed HIPAA in 1996, it called for creation of a national patient identifier. But an advisory group to HHS, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, urged delaying that until national privacy legislation was enacted. That recommendation evolved into a ban on HHS spending on even exploring patient matching solutions, something many, including FierceEHR’s Marla Durben Hirsch, believe must change soon.
CHIME, for one, has offered a $1 million challenge to find workable solutions.