American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
March 2007 Clinical Laboratory News: Washington Profiles

  
March 2007: Volume 33, Number 3

CMS Approves Lab Director NPI Code for HIPPA Provider ID
As of May 23, 2007, all HIPAA transactions requiring a provider ID must use the CMS-developed unique identifiers called National Provider Identifiers, or NPIs. CMS recently approved a new taxonomy code for non-MD laboratory directors. Details about the code and additional information can be found online at CMS’s National Plan and Provider Enumeration System Web site.
 
CDC Releases Pandemic Flu Preparedness Guidelines
Using a tool called the Pandemic Severity Index (PSI), the CDC has published pandemic influenza preparedness guidelines that focus on community-level measures that could be used to reduce the spread of infection. One of the foundations of PSI, which is modeled after the approach used to categorize hurricanes, is that the amount of harm caused by pandemics can vary greatly, and this variability has an impact on recommended public health actions taken by schools, businesses, and other community organizations. A full copy of the community guidance, Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance: Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation in the United States: Early Targeted Layered Use of Non-Pharmaceutical Preventions, is available online. In related CDC news, the agency will award $3.7 million in new grants to enhance healthcare information sharing to improve the detection and response to emerging public health threats. This funding will support studies at three new Centers of Excellence in Public Health Informatics located at the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. These studies will identify new tools and methods to facilitate health information sharing as part of adopting a nationwide, technology-based, integrated healthcare surveillance system. This research will also work to enhance CDC’s BioSense program
 
National Children’s Study Gets Continued Funding
Efforts to develop pediatric reference ranges are moving forward, now that the NIH’s National Children’s Study (NCS) has been approved $69 million in funding by Congress. The money was part of acontinuing resolution approved by the House in late January and Senate in mid-February, and will fund federal programs through the remainder of this fiscal year. The $463.5 billion measure covers nine appropriations bills, including the Department of Health and Human Services, which were not enacted in the last Congress. The NCS is a priority item for AACC, and the Association hopes that the data derived from the study can be used to develop pediatric reference ranges. Additional information can be found online.
 
Senate Committee Passes Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill
The “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007,” was approved by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, shortly after it was introduced by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in January. The legislation, S. 358, prohibits health plans and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information, and must now go before the entire Senate. In the House, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has introduced companion legislation, H.R.493, the “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007.” Full details on both bills are available on THOMAS, the congressional Web site.
 
President Signs NIH Reauthorization Bill 

In mid-January, President Bush signed the “National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006” into law. The approved bill, H.R. 6164, is the first comprehensive evaluation and reform of the agency and its objectives in more than 13 years, and outlines NIH spending priorities through fiscal year 2009. The details of the law include measures to increase NIH spending authority by 7% or more over the next few years, create a “Common Fund” for interdisciplinary research, provide incentives for Institutes to collaborate on research projects, create a review board to recommend structural improvement, and limit NIH to 27 Institutes, which is the current number. Additional information on the legislation can be found on THOMAS, the congressional Web site.