House Votes to Remove Federal Ban on Unique Patient Identifier

A medical professional and a patient both look at a document on a clipboard.

Today, the House of Representatives passed the six-bill FY2021 minibus package that includes the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. As part of the bill, the House approved by voice vote the bipartisan Foster-Kelly Amendment, which removed Section 510 of the Labor-HHS bill prohibiting federal funds for the promulgation or adoption of a unique patient identifier.

The long-standing ban has stifled innovation around patient identification issues and has prevented the Department of Health and Human Services from engaging the healthcare community to develop and advance a comprehensive nationwide patient matching strategy.

Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) have led the efforts in the House of Representatives to remove the ban for the past two years.

Hal Wolf, HIMSS President and CEO, issued the following statement in support of the congressional action.

“HIMSS applauds the House of Representatives for taking decisive action to eliminate the outdated and harmful appropriations ban on a unique patient identifier and permit HHS to actively engage in developing a national patient matching strategy. We encourage the Senate to include similar language in their appropriations bill, so the healthcare community can take action to advance patient safety through interoperable digital health information exchange.”

To help support these efforts, HIMSS recently launched with several other leading healthcare organizations Patient ID Now, a national coalition committed to addressing the issue of patient identification by advocating for legislation and regulations.

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