Government Advocacy

June 3, 2019: MGMA and coalition send Patient Matching letter to Congressional leadership

Advocacy Letter

Health Information Technology

June 3, 2019 
 
The Honorable Richard Shelby, Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510 
 
The Honorable Roy Blunt, Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education,
and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
131 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 
 
 
The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
S-146A, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 
 
The Honorable Patty Murray, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education,
and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
156 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 
 
 
Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray: 
 
On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we wish to urge inclusion of report language that seeks to end patient safety issues related to patient matching in the Senate Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bills.  
 
For nearly two decades, innovation and industry progress has been stifled due to a narrow interpretation of the language included in Labor-HHS bills since FY1999, prohibiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from adopting or implementing a unique patient identifier. More than that, without the ability for clinicians to correctly connect a patient with their medical record, lives have been lost and medical errors have needlessly occurred. These are situations that could have been entirely avoidable had patients been able to have been accurately identified and matched with their records. This problem is so dire that one of the nation’s leading patient safety organization, the ECRI Institute, named patient identification among the top ten threats to patient safety.1 
 
Importantly, recently proposed rulemakings by both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have referenced the existing funding prohibition and have cited the patient matching strategy appropriation report language included in previous Labor-HHS bills to explore new and innovative ways that the Administration can work with industry stakeholders on this critical patient safety and care issue. Moreover, the ability to accurately match patients to their records across the care continuum is an imperative for achieving greater value and better outcomes in our healthcare system and a critical piece of the interoperability puzzle.

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