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Are You Ready for a National Health ID Number?

Rep. Paul Calls for Repeal of Mandated National Health ID

April 27, 2004

Every citizen will soon be assigned a "unique health identifier" (UHI)—an ID number for tracking medical records electronically—unless Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) succeeds in having the plan repealed.

Congress authorized creation of UHIs in a provision titled "Administrative Simplification" in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA; Public Law 104-191). This provision mandates identification numbers for every:

  • individual,
  • employer,
  • health insurer, and
  • health-care provider.

The numbers will be used to track medical records and for electronic claims processing for each individual from cradle to grave.

Unique Health Identifiers Put on Hold—But Only Temporarily

Due to public outcry, federal funding for UHIs has been put on hold over the past few years. Now Rep. Paul has set out to have the provision eliminated altogether. On February 25, 2004, he sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, stating:

"I respectfully request that language repealing Section 1173(b) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d-2(b); 42 U.S.C. 1320d-6(a)(1)), which authorizes the creation of a national medical ID, be included in this year's Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill. As you are no doubt aware, Congress has included language forbidding the expenditure of funds to implement Section 1173(b) in the federal budget for the past seven fiscal years. Congress has acted in response to an ongoing public outcry against the national medical ID....

"It should be clear to every member of Congress that the American public does not want a uniform medical identifier. Therefore, rather than extending the prohibition on funding for another year, Congress should simply repeal the authorization of the national medical ID this year. The Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill represents the best vehicle for repealing the uniform medical identifier....

"As an OB/GYN with more than 30 years experience in private practice, I know better than most the importance of preserving the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship. Oftentimes, effective treatment depends on a patient's ability to place absolute trust in his or her doctor. What will happen to that trust when patients know that any and all information given to their doctor [could] be placed in a database that is accessible to anyone who knows the patient's 'unique personal identifier'?"

This article was originally published in the March/April 2004 issue of Health Freedom Watch.