The U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly $600 billion spending package July 29, 2021, along party lines by a vote of 219-208. The seven-bill minibus (H.R. 4502) included appropriations bills for Labor-HHS, Agriculture-FDA, Energy and Water, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD. Learn more about the House Appropriations Committee’s bills, summaries, and reports.
The Labor-HHS bill advanced several key HIMSS priorities. For the third consecutive year, the House has removed Section 510 of the bill, the longstanding ban on federal spending to study or adopt a national unique health identifier.
Accurate patient identification is a key component of secure, interoperable information sharing that advances patient safety and improves patient access to advanced healthcare solutions. Section 510 has stifled innovation around patient identification for two decades. It has limited HHS’s ability to engage with the private sector to advance a national strategy around patient identification and matching that protects patient privacy and is cost-effective, scalable and secure. HIMSS, a founding member of the Patient ID Now coalition, has long sought to remove barriers to accurate patient identification.
The minibus package also included $150 million towards the CDC’s Data Modernization Initiative (DMI), an increase of $100 million from FY2021.
First funded through FY2020 appropriations, the DMI aims to create a standards-based, interoperable public health infrastructure where systems and jurisdictions can communicate and share data seamlessly across CDC, state, territorial, local and tribal partners. This funding builds on foundational investments already made to DMI through annual and supplemental appropriations, including the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan. Public health data modernization has been a critical priority for HIMSS, which helped launch the Data: Elemental to Health Campaign in February 2019.
The package further recognizes the rising maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. and makes critical investments to address maternal health disparities, particularly among high-risk and underserved women. The bill includes $1.22 billion, an increase of $214 million above FY202, toward improving maternal and child health outcomes.
The FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies funding bill provides $253.8 billion, an increase of $55.2 billion above 2021.
The FY2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill provides $279.9 billion, an increase of $28.1 billion – more than 10 percent – above 2021. Of this amount, discretionary funding for programs such as veterans’ healthcare and Military Construction totals $124.5 billion, an increase of $11.4 billion above 2021.
Through this appropriations bill, the VA is encouraged to expand telehealth services and benefits to patients to address backlogs and healthcare access. The VA also should expand the Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) program, which has been a leader in the adoption of connected care solutions including remote patient monitoring.
Funding amount: $97.6 billion for Veterans Medical Care
Urge Congress to allow for a national strategy around patient identification to improve patient safety and outcomes.