The White House Web site has a “We the People” page where citizens can start an online petition to change public policy. A post to the site on March 25 petitions the Obama Administration to “Ask Congress to no longer prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from establishing standards for a unique patient identifier.” The rest of the petition reads:

“In 1996 Congress passed HIPAA which included provisions that required HHS to “adopt national standards for electronic healthcare transactions” and “a standard unique health identifier for each individual, employer, health plan, and health care provider for use in the healthcare system.”

“In 1998 Congress passed Public Law 105-277 that prohibited HHS spending any funds to “promulgate or adopt any final standard … providing for, or providing for the assignment of, a unique health identifier for an individual ... until legislation is enacted specifically approving the standard.”

“HIMSS identified cost savings and safety benefits associated with a unique patient identifier. Congress should permit HHS to develop standards, especially if this could increase efficiencies and prevent medical errors.”

The goal is 100,000 signatures by April 24. Thirty-one signatures were collected in the first 24 hours. More information and the opportunity to sign are available here.

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