AHA urges Senate appropriators to support unique patient ID research

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The American Hospital Association has called on leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee to overturn a 20-year prohibition on using federal funding for a unique patient identifier to address the widespread problem of misidentification.

Late last week, AHA sent a letter to the committee’s leadership trying to influence the legislative language in the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

"For the past 20 years, language has been included in appropriations bills prohibiting HHS from spending any federal funding to adopt a UPI,” states AHA’s letter to the senators. “Removing the prohibition on the use of federal funds to promulgate or adopt a national UPI would provide HHS the ability to explore solutions that link patients with their correct medical records.”

Current law inserted into every budget passed by Congress since 1999 has prevented the Department of Health and Human Services from spending funds on a unique patient identifier to help solve the problem.

However, in June, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to H.R. 2740, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2020, that would eliminate Section 510 of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill that prohibits HHS from spending any federal dollars on UPI. AHA wants the Senate to follow suit.

“We encourage the Senate Fiscal Year 2020 Labor-HHS Appropriations bill also to allow funding for this critical issue,” the hospital group writes. “Funding for a UPI would help reduce administrative costs and ensure efficient, timely care for patients.”

While the House voted 246 to 178 in favor of the amendment, it still needs to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

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