Senator Rand Paul Initiates National Patient Identifier Repeal Act

Sen. Rand Paul, M.D., (R-Kentucky) has announced a new bill that tries to once and for all take away the HIPAA national patient identifier provision considering the privacy problems in using such a system.

At present, HIPAA is commonly known for its medical data privacy and security regulations, nevertheless, the national patient identifier system was suggested in the original HIPAA legislation of 1996 as a means to assist in information sharing and cut down wastage in medical care.

The provision required the HHS to follow standards for a conventional unique health identifier for every individual, employer, health plan, and healthcare organization for usage in the health care system. Nevertheless, in 1998, former Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), the dad of Sen. Rand, made a proposal which necessitated a prohibition on financing the creation and implementation of such an identifier system. The ban was included in the Congressional budget for 1999 and has long been listed in all Congressional budgets since that time.

There was an expectation that the prohibition will eventually be taken out subsequent to a change to the House of Representative’s appropriation bill for the fiscal year 2020. The modification was given strong bipartisan support and it was expected that the Senate will pursue the House’s lead and remove the ban ultimately. Nevertheless, on September 18, 2019, the proposed budget bill for the fiscal year 2020 of the Senate appropriations subcommittee had the same language as past years and, as it appears, the ban is meant to stay the same for at least one additional year.

Sen. Rand Paul’s National Patient Identifier Repeal Act attempts to annul the HIPAA provision, which Sen Paul thinks will put the privacy of Americans in danger. He regards the provision to be detrimental, as it will enable a government-issued ID number to be associated with the private healthcare histories of each man, woman, and child in the United States.

It is for the same reason that a lot of healthcare industry stakeholder groups prefer the national patient identifier announced because, with no such patient identifier system, it is very difficult to properly match healthcare records with the right patient. Those wanting to have the restriction removed feel it will better the reliability of health information exchange, security as well as and patient safety.

Sen. Paul do not concur, as he thinks there is a big potential privacy risk. Doctor-patient connection relies upon trust and privacy, using a national patient ID will endanger it. Considering the number of disastrous security breaches happening in our society, it is just inappropriate for federal government to centralize a range of personal data of Americans.

Industry groups including the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) have made more attempts to have the prohibition removed as a consequence of the challenges in matching healthcare records with patients.

Russ Branzell, CHIME CEO, said that Congress already approved a healthcare identifier for receivers of Medicare, yet a national identifier is likewise essential. The patient identification debate is about saving individuals and enabling the power of technology to innovate healthcare at the same time lowering expenses. Although numerous industry groups have a similar perspective as Branzell’s, several privacy advocacy organizations, such as the Citizen’s Council for Health Freedom, are for Sen. Paul’s bill. Individuals and organizations supporting the taking away of the HIPAA provision think centralizing patient data would considerably increase the threat of security breaches permitting hackers to take people’s lifelong healthcare information and this type of system will permit unrivaled tracking of Americans by means of their healthcare information.

About Christine Garcia 1309 Articles
Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA