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Patient ID Now Coalition Disappointed Congress Continues to Include Rider to Stifle Progress on Patient Identification

Patient ID Now, a coalition of leading health care organizations, is disappointed that today the U.S. Congress reinserted a long-outdated rider in its final version of the fiscal year 2022 (FY22) budget that stifles innovation around patient identification. The rider was removed earlier in the appropriations process in both the US House of Representatives’ Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, as well as the US Senate’s draft Labor-HHS appropriations bill. 

Despite bipartisan support—led by Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA)—for the removal of Section 510 in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, the rider once again was included in the federal budget, continuing its suppression of progress towards addressing the dire issue of patient misidentification within the US health care system. A narrow interpretation of Section 510 over the past two decades has hindered the ability to create a national strategy on patient identification and matching, endangering patient safety and privacy, and increasing the cost burden to both patients and the health care system. 

Patient misidentification was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges included thousands of duplicate records created during the vaccination registration process and disruptions in vaccine availability at provider sites because of inaccurate patient documentation. 

“As long as patient misidentification remains unaddressed at the federal level, patient safety and public health will suffer, and the unnecessary costs will be borne by an already overburdened health system,” says AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “We thank our champions on the Hill for taking up this issue and encourage Congress to look seriously at the harmful effects of patient misidentification.” 

The Patient ID Now coalition urges Congress to complete the progress it made towards protecting patient safety and privacy in FY22 and finally repeal Section 510 from its Labor-HHS appropriations bill within its FY23 federal budget. 

“The nation’s lack of a national strategy for accurately connecting patients to their health information is a pressing public health and safety issue. As we digitize health care, this essential but missing functionality becomes increasingly more important,” says Intermountain Healthcare Vice President and Chief Information Officer Ryan Smith. “Intermountain Healthcare will continue to work to remove the outdated funding restriction in order to achieve a standards-based solution that will enable patients to be accurately connected to their electronic health data as they seek care across the continuum. Only then will we truly achieve a patient-centered health care delivery system that coordinates care and puts the patient first.” 

Here is what leaders of other coalition member organizations said about the recent vote:  

Source: Patient ID Now